A Canadian MLS Preview

With 21 Canadian players on MLS rosters as the season is about to begin, here’s a preview of their season.
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, February 28, 2013

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

It is a mere two days until the first kick of a ball in the 2013 MLS regular season will be made. And as such, it is as good of time as ever to evaluate where MLS stand in terms of Canadian-ness.    

Montreal Impact FC

The Impact lost two Canadians, as Greg Sutton retired and Evan James was cut from the roster. They did, however, sign home-grown player Maxim Tissot to a contract, which brings Montreal to the minimum of three Canadian players on the roster, along with Patrice Bernier and Karl Ouimette. The other recent home-grown Wandrille Lefèvre does hold Canadian residency and has lived in Canada for many years, but is still a French citizen and doesn’t seem to be eligible for Canada.

If Bernier can stay healthy, then he should see his fair share of playing time in the Montreal midfield, whereas Ouimette and Tissot face tough competition in the defence. Tissot will be fighting Iapichino and Jeb Brovsky for the left back position, but Brovsky is not being a natural left back so Tissot should have the opportunity to, at least, be the immediate back-up at left back.

Ouimette is competing with the likes of Nesta, Ferrari and Rivas for the centre back position, and, while playing time can look difficult for the 20-year old, he does have a world class player to learn from. If their aging bodies suffer from the travel and physicality of MLS, he should still be able to see some minutes.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The 2013 Vancouver roster has four young, Canadian products of its own academy in addition to Canadian-born Swiss international Alain Rochat and the Ghana-born, recent Canadian resident Gershon Koffie.

Unfortunately for fans of the Canadian Men’s National Team program, none of the players eligible for Canada at this moment are looking to get much playing time. The Caps are stacked in midfield and attack and if any of the young Canadians get regular playing team, they should be given some kind of award in addition to a spot on the national team. It’ll be that unlikely.

While his playing time for the Ghana U-20 team could end up barring Koffie from playing for Canada – if this has his interest – there are hopes that he eventually will, and should, succeed in making the switch. This would be a boon for Canada if he can bring his stellar play from Vancouver.

Toronto FC

Toronto FC has a whopping seven Canadian players on their roster with a potential eight on the way if Jonathan Osorio, who scored for TFC against Orlando in the preseason, is signed. If he is signed, then the Reds have more players eligible for Canada, than Montreal and Vancouver combined.

Having so many young Canadians – of that group of players Terry Dunfield is the only one born before 1990 – is great in theory. The kids are local boys playing for their hometown team and this could be the beginning of a great story.

The problem is the rest of the team. These players will be asked to do too much too soon, and they won’t have players of a high enough quality around to compensate for it and to learn from in training sessions. While it is great for Canadian soccer that Toronto FC is good at giving young, Canadian talent opportunities, an endless season of defeats is hardly the best learning environment.

Rest of MLS

Whether it is because of quality (perceived or real) or the fact that Canadians count as foreigners for American MLS teams is hard to know, but in the rest of MLS there are only seven Canadians (as many as VWFC and IMFC combined and as TFC alone).

The most prominent team is D.C. United with two Canadians, which could increase to three if Kyle Porter is signed as expected. Both Jakovic and Dwayne De Rosario play key roles for D.C., and Porter could be a solid role player for the team.

In Portland, Will Johnson has been named captain for the Timbers. It is positive to see that after being traded by RSL that he has landed in a position where he is trusted and expected to perform, especially as he is likely to be a veteran and leader on the CanMNT going forward.

After a stint in Finland, Nana Attakora is back in MLS with the Earthquakes. And as San Jose will take part in the CONCACAF Champions League, that should stretch the SJ roster allowing Attakora to get playing time.

If it hadn’t been for his American passport, I’m not sure the Columbus Crew would have used a roster spot on Drew Beckie. I’ll admit to not knowing much about him, but second rounders in the MLS SuperDraft are rarely worth an international spot. If he can get some playing time here and there, I’ll be more than happy for him.

Finally there is Ante Jazic at Chivas USA. I’m not that hopeful here. Technically he is on the roster, but hasn’t attended preseason under the new coach. Whether or not he’s traded, it would be tough for him getting ready for the new MLS season at 37 without having attended a preseason camp.

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.