Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton MLS Cup in ’17 will be one last hurrah ahead of a harsh 2018 for Canadian club soccer

MLS Cup in ’17 will be one last hurrah ahead of a harsh 2018 for Canadian club soccer

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For soccer fans in Canada, this weekend’s MLS Cup is going to be like enjoying that last beer in the fridge, knowing that the liquor stores and bars are all closed. This will be the last hurrah.

While most of us are talking about just how much snow BMO Field will get for Saturday’s MLS Cup match (and, let’s face it, if you’re not pulling for a blizzard, you’re lying), with the Reds and Sounders both doing their big pre-game media events Thursday, you’d almost be fooled into thinking that soccer in Canada is thriving. Hell, you could probably make some kind of MLS Cup drinking game, shoot one back every time a commentator talks about the championship match being a high point for Canadian soccer or that a BMO Field full of passionate fans is a sign that Canadian soccer is on an upswing.

The truth is, 2018 will be a low point for men’s soccer in Canada. Boy, is it going to suck. It will be ultimate in lame-duck years. Canadian jobs will dwindle. We’ll have fewer teams to support. And even in TFC beats Seattle 10-0 on Saturday, that’s not going to change a thing.

In the past couple of months, we’ve learned that:

The NASL’s FC Edmonton has discontinued operations, and will only rise again in a new Canadian Premier League if ownership feels there is a sustainable path for the team going forward. Players have been released, as has the team’s Canadian head coach.

The San Francisco Deltas, a Canada-in-America haven, with four Canadian starters and coach Marc Dos Santos, ceased operations after winning the NASL title.

And WFC2, the USL affiliate of the Vancouver Whitecaps, was discontinued. The Whitecaps will now affiliate with Fresno FC, free of those pesky Canadian-content regulations.

As the Sounders and Reds were at the dais talking up MLS Cup in Toronto, the Whitecaps issued a release stating that Canadians Matthew Baldisimo, Terran Campbell and Sean Melvin would be assigned to Fresno — and that a whole slew of players who were with WFC2 would be cut. Those names included Canadians Gloire Amanda, Kadin Chung, Thomas Gardner, Patrick Metcalfe, Chris Serban, Dominick Zator and Mark Village (though Village had already signed with FC Cincinnati). The Whitecaps will retain MLS Homegrown player rights on Amanda, Chung, Gardner, Metcalfe and Serban.

While prospective Canadian Premier League investors are meeting in Toronto this week (with all of the MLS Cup hysteria distracting folks from the fact CanPL is having key meetings in Toronto, nice work on the “hiding-in-plain-sight” thing), we’re all pretty confident this league won’t start till 2019. FCE is not playing in ‘18, the Ottawa Fury is committed to USL in ‘18, even though the league’s president, Jake Edwards has officially said he backs the notion of the CanPL and that this country needs our own league. All signs point to 2019, even though the CanPL itself hasn’t yet confirmed that timing.

“With the news about FC Edmonton, the Deltas and the Whitecaps 2, it’s been a tough period for Canadian players,” said CanPL president Paul Beirne. “But, a tree needs to drop branches so it can stimulate new growth.”

So, for what looks to be a full year, we’re going to see a regression in Canadian pro soccer. Fewer opportunities and fewer teams.

But, let’s make sure to drink every time an MLS Cup commentator or pundit says how everything is coming up aces in Canadian soccer.

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3 Comments

  1. Matti

    December 8, 2017 at 4:48 am

    A sad state of affairs depicted in another top article. However, I am not 100% convinced that the proposed CanPL will be the magic wand to spirit away these woes, mainly as I am not sure the great Canadian public will turn up in numbers to make it viable as an economic concern…

    At the danger of stating the obvious, without lots of bums on seats week-in-week-out financially the new league will flounder. But I am not an economist and I sincerely hope that I am wrong, but I am doubtful that Ottawa Fury versus Hamilton (Athletic perhaps?!) will draw in the same crowds as the Fury versus New York Red Bulls II or FC Cincinnati.

    Reply

    • Ralph

      December 9, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      That is the question. How many fans outside the core soccer fans will go to see a D2/D3 level team. Regardless what they call it that is what level the league will be at. TFC just won the MLS cup so they will dominate all media in the GTA. What chance do teams in Montreal & Vancouver have?
      So it always comes back to the problem of either they are going head to head with the 3 MLS teams or they are not in the biggest 3 markets in the country. I see neither as viable over the long term.

      Reply

  2. Ralph

    December 7, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Sad to see FC Edmonton go. Last of the D2 teams in Canada for those players who are not quite ready for MLS.

    Any word on the TFC2 situation? After going a whole season 155 minutes per game less than what they promised the CSA I seriously doubt they will be back either.

    To be honest most of these players have no shot at MLS on any of the 3 teams. If they have not played on the first team before their 18th birthday then go to university. NCAA or CIS will do. If they are that special player they’ll get a GenA contract after one year in school at the age of 19. If not then they get 4 years to develop mentally, emotionally and physically before they enter the draft. Failing that they have an education to fall back on.

    Reply

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