Coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s recent suggestion that his US men’s national team would benefit from an 11-month MLS season didn’t account for a northeast winter, but MLS sides could look to Brazil’s state leagues as an inspiration for more competitive games. The Whitecaps are currently playing out their preseason in Arizona, but imagine taking on Seattle and Portland in a regional Cascadian league instead?
Toronto FC’s big-money signings are expected to lead the Reds’ playoff charge this year, but expectations of easily qualifying for the postseason are likely unfounded. A reasonable target for the Reds in the Eastern Conference is one that Jermain Defoe can relate to – a top 4 finish.
Toronto FC have been public in their desire for a big-name striker next season, with recent reports suggesting that Italian Alberto Gilardino has supplanted Jermain Defoe at the top of the club’s list. There’s one hitch – both players are likely to stay in Europe until after the World Cup this summer, and looking at the history of big-money Designated Players, that doesn’t bode well for Toronto FC’s 2014 season.
Two of the three Canadian MLS teams were in action away from home on Saturday, but neither could take anything from their respective road trips. Vancouver’s playoff hopes are looking like a distant memory after a 3-1 collapse in Dallas, while Toronto fell 2-0 at Portland Timbers in the first game of the post-Kevin Payne era.
It’s a strange situation for North American players in Major League Soccer, with the league’s domestic player rules fundamentally unbalanced. Dejan Jakovic and Kyle Porter take up a precious international slot at D.C. United (teammate Dwayne De Rosario has a green card), but if they returned to a Canadian club they’d be competing against Americans as a domestic.
The season is over in most of Europe, and a host of Canadian and American players are among those that have been released in the past few weeks. Along with a few MLS veterans who are still without a club in 2013, there are enough quality free agents to form an XI of players that should be on the radar of Canada’s pro teams during the business end of the season.
As much as it pains me to say it, Toronto can take a page from the way Montreal handles their MLS team. Both have a soccer-hungry fanbase, their own stadium and are willing to spend money, so why the widening gap between the sides? This Wednesday, the Impact could win their 8th Voyageurs Cup (update – and they did). It’s time to acknowledge Montreal as Canada’s leading soccer city.
Colombia is a country known for its exports to the United States, flooding the American market with coffee, cocaine and more recently, Major League Soccer players. The country with the most MLS players is of course the US, but in second is not Canada – home of 3 MLS teams – but Colombia. Vancouver’s reluctance to use homegrown players may be partly to blame, but there are a variety of reasons for the amount of imported Colombian in the league.