The salary cap structure in Major League Soccer is unique in world football. Entry-level players regularly play alongside high-profile signings making nearly 100 times their salary, with both players often actually overpaid relative to their quality.
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?
Canada’s bid to make this year’s World Cup may have stumbled in Honduras in 2012, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t any Canadian content in Brazil this summer – one linesman and a couple of Canadian-raised players all featured in the 2014 tournament, including a Scarborough native who started Saturday’s third-place match.
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.
Quebec’s participation in a non-FIFA tournament recently inspired Jonah Freedman at MLS to have a look at what kind of teams each US state could put out. Along the same lines, I’ve been thinking about how the Canadian pro teams would look if they were limited to players from their province, and now seems like a good time to get it down.
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.
Last year, I moved from Toronto to Vancouver, and Saturday’s opening game between the two cities’ Major League Soccer franchises was a rare opportunity for me to see my hometown team in action. The Whitecaps hosted Toronto FC at BC Place to kick off the 2013 MLS season with a rematch between last year’s Canadian Championship finalists.