Home MLS Montreal Impact MLS relaxes Canadian-content rule, but agrees to work with CSA

MLS relaxes Canadian-content rule, but agrees to work with CSA


Major League Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association will work together on a plan to develop Canadian talent. That announcement came Friday, at the same time the league announced it was dropping the number of Canadian players its Canadian-based teams would be required to carry to three each.

Last year, before trades, allocations and the like, TFC needed to reserve all but 13 of its senior-roster spots for Canadian talent. From the 2010 MLS rulebook: “Each team is allotted eight (8) International slots, with the exception of Toronto FC who is allotted 13 International slots, five (5) of which may be used on domestic U.S. players. All International player slots are tradable, therefore a team may have more than or less than eight (8) International players on its roster.”

U.S. players will now be considered domestic players on Canadian teams.

Three is a drop, but it isn’t as bad as it seems. That’s because of the new MLS rule that doesn’t restrict the number of players a club can bring up from its academy —these players can be plucked from any area within 50 miles of the stadium. So, the league knows that any player the Whitecaps or TFC, or the Impact in 2012 and on, bring up from their academies will be Canadian.

By giving teams all of these slots that don’t constitute cap hits, there still should be plenty of Canadians on the roster.

And, with Aron Winter as the technical director of Toronto FC and Bob Lenarduzzi as president of the Whitecaps, both of whom are proponents of strong youth systems that give local talent the chance to rise up through the ranks, it’s hard to believe that there will ever be a time when the Whitecaps or TFC will ever have only three Canadian players on either roster.

Still, the optics aren’t that great. It’s hard to believe that, at the senior level — in roster slots that do count against the cap — that the league felt it only needed to keep slots open for nine players on the three Canadian teams that will be here in 2012. Heck, Toronto FC brought three new Canadian trialists on the road to Turkey with the club today. Along with Julian de Guzman, Dwayne De Rosario, defender Nana Attakora (and Adrian Cann, if a contract can be worked out), TFC’s strength of its roster is its Canadian contingent.

The Whitecaps have a slew of great Canadian players coming up from its Residency program.

Wouldn’t it be far better if MLS instituted a rule that entrenched the rights of American and Canadian prospects. Drop the border distinctions, accept the fact that MLS is a North American league, and put down a rule that all teams would be required to carry a specified number of Americans and at least one Canadian player each?

There will definitely be lots for the new MLS-CSA task force, which includes Todd Durbin (MLS, executive vice president), Victor Montagliani (Canadian Soccer Association, vice president), Peter Montopoli (Canadian Soccer Association, general secretary), Stephen Hart (Canada’s national head coach), Bob Lenarduzzi (Vancouver Whitecaps FC president), Earl Cochrane (Toronto FC Director of Team and Player Operations), and Nick De Santis (Montreal Impact Technical Director).

“We are committed to improving the professional standards of our sport in this country,” Montopoli said in a release. “We want to create the best possible environment for our players and teams to be successful in MLS and at the international level with our national teams.”

MLS commissioner Don Garber is on the record saying that it is the league’s goal to help get both Canada and the United States to the next World Cup. The new roster rules likely will do nothing to change the Whitecaps or TFC plans for the 2011 season. That’s the product of announcing new roster rules AFTER the draft, AFTER training camps have opened.

It will be up to the Whitecaps, Impact and Toronto FC to ensure that the three-Canadians-per-team rule will only be a symbolic move, and never becomes the practice with our MLS clubs.



A Major League Soccer club’s first team roster is comprised of up to 30 players. All 30 players are eligible for selection to each 18-player game-day squad during the regular season and playoffs.

Salary & Budget:

* Players occupying roster spots 1-20 count against the club’s 2011 salary budget of $2,675,000, and are referred to collectively as the club’s Salary Budget Players.
* Roster spots 19 and 20 are not required to be filled, and teams may spread their salary budget across only 18 Salary Budget Players. A minimum salary budget charge will be imputed against a team’s salary budget for each unfilled senior roster slot below 18.
* The maximum budget charge for a single player is $335,000.*
* A Designated Player counts $335,000 against the club’s salary budget, unless the player joins his club in the middle of the season, in which case his budget charge will be $167,500.

* See section entitled Allocation Money below, under Player Acquisition Mechanisms, for details on buying down a player’s budget charge.

* Players occupying roster spots 21-30 do not count against the club’s salary budget, and are referred to collectively as the club’s Off-Budget Players (maximum of 10 per team).
* All Generation adidas players are Off-Budget players.

* Players occupying roster spots 1-24 will earn at least $42,000 in 2011.
* Players occupying roster spots 25-30 will earn at least $32,600 in 2011.
* Clubs may elect to leave up to two of these roster spots (25-30) vacant and use $35,000 for each empty spot as allocation money.
* Clubs may sign up to two Home Grown Players to Generation adidas contracts.

Age Designations:

* Any player making $32,600 must be under the age 25 (does not turn 25 or older in 2011).


* In 2011, a total of 144 international slots are divided among the 18 clubs. Each club began with eight international slots, which are tradable. There is no limit on the number of international slots on each club’s roster.
* The remaining roster slots must belong to domestic players. For clubs based in the United States, a domestic player is either a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident (green card holder) or the holder of other special status (e.g., refugee or asylum status).

* The two MLS clubs based in Canada – Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC – began with eight international slots, but their domestic slots may be filled with either Canadian or U.S. domestic players.
* MLS clubs based in Canada are required to have a minimum of three Canadian domestic players on their rosters.
* Players with the legal right to work in Canada are considered Canadian domestic players (i.e., Canadian citizen, permanent resident, part of a protected class).

NOTE: The terms Home Grown and Generation adidas are used to describe mechanisms by which players are acquired. They are not roster designations. All players’ roster slots are determined by their compensation and/or age as outlined above.

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One Comment

  1. ned

    March 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Please tell me how many countries on the planet have managed to have a strong soccer program WITHOUT their own leagues to develop a bigger amount of players than 9 guaranteed spots?

    Slovenia, 2 million people, Norway and Denmark, 4 million each… THEY have their leagues and guess what… they do VERY well playing against the big Euro teams.
    It doesn’t matter if your best are playing outside the country, your best 18 yr. olds should be playing and starting in a home league, not on some bench.

    Oh yeah, Iceland. Population: Ohh, about the size of my suburb, 300,000 people.
    You know what else they have? Almost all their best players playing in some Euro league. The home league is a step to the next level that we somehow think we can just skip.
    You know how many Iceland players have played-signed just with Manchester United over the years? Three.
    Are they superhuman?

    Academies are part of the solution but they do not replace top senior competition.
    Look at the CSL pro teams in Toronto when they play against the academies. It’s men against boys, both physically and in terms of soccer IQ and guile. You get better playing against stronger opposition. Again, the top young players in EVERY country play in senior teams. Look at the U-20 we had here a few years ago or even the Euro U-21, were there ANY players on those national teams that were playing for academies? No. The best of the best play in some senior teams.

    Nine slots isn’t the point… had it been 18 spots it would have changed anything.

    We are trying to do something that no one has done in soccer or even in other sports. I’m pretty sure there are no great basketball teams if any from countries that don’t have their own leagues.
    The best Serb and Lithuanian basketball players are not playing in their home leagues once they make a name for themselves but the leagues in their small countries are the basis for a strong national programs which has resulted in many international successes.

    We are a country of almost 40 million and, yes, geography is a bitch but just look at all the smaller countries like the ones mentioned above than have leagues and ask yourself why we would succeed in doing what no other country has done before.

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