How Do the Canadian Teams Stack Up in MLS?

All 3 Canadian MLS teams face an interesting season, with Canadians potentially playing key roles
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, March 06, 2014

Made in Canada - coverage of the Canadian MLS, NASL & USL Clubs, CSL, PCSL, Canadian Championship & Canada National Teams

With only 3 days left before the 2014 MLS season kicks off, here is a look at the Canadian MLS clubs and how they fit in with the rest of the league.

Toronto FC

In the nation’s biggest city, the pressure is on. Both on and off the field there is little resemblance to where the team was a year ago after having overhauled both the front office and squad. In fact one of the few constants is TFC manager Ryan Nelsen.

The sophomore coach is facing a lot pressure as the team has the best roster in its short history. The challenge for Nelsen is that while the individual pieces have been upgraded, the key to success will breed chemistry and familiarity fast.

Canadians Doneil Henry and Jonathan Osorio are expected to partner with Steven Caldwell and Michael Bradley, respectively, and if Nelsen can make the team live up to expectations, they should improve their game as they finally play on a successful team. As such Benito Floro is likely to pay a lot of attention to what happens in Toronto in 2014.

He should also pay attention to TFC’s new affiliation with the Wilmington Hammerheads. A player like Manny Aparicio, who is likely to feature for Canada in the future, would improve much more if he went on loan, rather than playing limited minutes for the first team.

Vancouver Whitecaps

In Vancouver, the Caps start the season with a new coach in Carl Robinson. He also faces a big challenge having lost last seasons’ MLS top scorer Camillo Sanvezzo. The Whitecaps attack might be talented, but they are also young and inexperienced and they key to their season might be which attitude Darren Mattocks brings to field.

While questions remain in the attack, the midfield could end up as one of the better sides in MLS after signing Matias Laba from Toronto FC, as well as Pedro Morales from Malaga. While these signings are good for the team, it could make it difficult for Canadian Bryce Alderson and Russell Teibert to get playing time. Teibert could feature in a more attacking role, though. Playing time should be a priority for young Canadians. And while Robinson has been vocal about giving playing time to young players, Alderson and Sam Adekugbe should consider seeking a loan to Vancouver’s affiliate Charleston if they aren’t likely to get playing time. There is also talk of Adekugbe being good enough to make his mark on the first team.

Montreal Impact

The Impact start their third MLS season with yet another manager as Frank Klopas has been given the reigns of the Montreal side. He faces a challenge having lost 8 players in the offseason, including Alessandro Nesta and Davy Arnaud, and so far only bringing in 2 players in SuperDraft pick Eric Miller and Uruguayan forward Santiago González. In Arnaud the team has lost its captain, a role now claimed by Quebec-native Patrice Bernier, who will now be given the keys to the midfield.

One of the big storylines will be how the team’s star forward Marco Di Vaio performs this season. No one doubts his skill-set, but the man turns 38 in July and the Impact roster only has 2 other forwards at this moment. If Di Vaio is injured, it is difficult to see where Montreal will get their goals.

Another big question mark is the defense, which looks thin especially after Nesta retiring. No one wants to rely on Nelson Rivas who only played 1 game last season. Matteo Ferrari played almost all games last season, but at 34 there is also the risk that this might be the season, where he loses his edge. All this insecurity in the defence could mean that Maxim Tissot and Karl Ouimette could see a lot more playing time than last season if they are able to grab their chances when they get them.

It’s going to be a banner year in MLS. And it looks as though the Canadian clubs may have a say in who walks away with the hardware.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.