Editorial (January 17, 2017) – The last 12 months have shown that Canadian Soccer is heading in the right direction. While the snowy soccer nation certainly hasn’t fully come into its own, it’s on the right track.
MLS 3.0: Canadian Soccer Starting To Come Into Its Own
On The Club Level
Canadian Soccer in 2016 cannot be brought up without first discussing the epic Eastern Conference Finals series between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC. It was possibly the most epic two-leg playoff series in MLS history. It was the furthest any Canadian team ever got in the MLS Cup Playoffs.Toronto advanced to the final, and nearly won the whole thing.
Both clubs appear primed for a successful 2017. They’ve got star power in Sebastian Giovinco, Ignacio Piatti, Jozy Altidore, Dominic Oduro, and Michael Bradley. They’re also starting to show the quality of Canadian born talent. Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts could be major players for Toronto this year. Montreal currently has seven native Canadians on their roster including three teenagers. Their academy production might finally be ready to play in MLS.
On the other side of the country, Vancouver Whitecaps FC had a rough 2016. But they are competing in the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. Canada continues to do well in the group stage of the competition, which is impressive considering the rules force them to compete in the same group as an American based MLS team.
In the birthplace of hockey, the beautiful game is starting to gain traction at the club level.
At the 2017 MLS SuperDraft
If there was anything that was a banner showing for Canadian Soccer, it was the SuperDraft. Shamit Shome and Adonijah Reid became the first ever Canadian internationals to be part of the Generation Adidas program.
Canada also had one of the four college seniors who signed with the league before the draft started. Forward Brian Wright is now a member of the New England Revolution.
All of this comes on the heels of Cyle Larin being taken No. 1 overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. Canada is clearly starting to pick up speed at the youth and college level in terms of talent development.
Hope For The National Team
If there’s one area Canada needs the most help in, it’s the Canadian Men’s National Team. The program hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since Mexico 1986, their only appearance.
Canada crashed out of qualification for Russia 2018 last year when they finished third in their group, just one point behind Honduras.
That said, the future is bright when it comes to Canadian talent. They’ve got young talent with potential, like Tesho Akindele and Russell Teibert. They’ve got the previously mentioned Larin and Osorio. And they still have Will Johnson as a veteran presence to help guide the young players.
With proper development of these key players (and a possible shake up in how qualification is happening), Canada should be a threat to the CONCACAF old guard come qualification for 2022.