Canadian Players Flood MLS Combine

Kyle Bekker, among other Canadians, will help the country make an impact at the MLS SuperDraft
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, January 17, 2013

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

Before this MLS Combine, it had been a rarity to see Canadians or players with Canadian passports (I’m looking at you Teal Bunbury and O’Brian White) at the Combine and the SuperDraft.

But now the league has three Canadian teams, and Major League Soccer and its scouts have probably realized that including Canadians in the draft and combine makes sense. With three Canadians and one Canadian-born player at the combine, Canada has made a much larger impact than in earlier years.

However, due to the roster rule that Canadians count as internationals, combined with the fact that Vancouver, Montreal and, to a lesser extent, Toronto, do not have that many Canadians on their teams, it is very likely the Canadian teams will draft the Canadians.

Kyle Bekker has gotten rave reviews for his performances at the Combine, and many mock drafts have Toronto picking him with its first pick. No matter what pick Toronto uses, it will make him the highest drafted Canadian ever, even if you include Teal Bunbury, who, at the time, hadn’t defected yet.

Steve Sandor of the11.ca, has proposed inviting CIS players to the combine and the draft. And while this would be a great showcase for the Canadian talent that surely would be good enough to be there, it is actually easier for Canadian MLS teams to get the CIS players than a NCAA player, as these players can go around the draft and sign straight with the teams.

It is also a big commitment for the US-based teams to use an international spot on a player who might not be MLS-ready from the get-go. This is probably why very few Canadians have been part of the draft previously and why MLS likely wouldn’t consider inviting CIS players.

The increasing amount of Canadians at the Combine holds a lot of symbolic value. The more Canadians there are, the more recognition of Canada there is in MLS. On top of that, it will help the players showcase their skills to NASL and USL teams if they aren’t ready for MLS. But as the academies grow, these will be the source of Canadian talent for MLS, not the draft.

While Canadian teams should generally go for Canadian talent, it is a great sign for Canadian soccer whenever a Canadian player is drafted for a US-based MLS team.

Henrik LONNE

Nationality:
Denmark
College:
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.
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