Development of Canada's Homegrown Players

Recent waiver should be used to look at how homegrown players are developed in Canada once they get their first professional contract.
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, March 21, 2013

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

Matt Stinson, a homegrown player for Toronto FC, has been waived. He is neither the first – as he joins Oscar Cordon, Nicholas Lindsay and Keith Makubuya – and he won’t be last.

For a club still relatively young like Toronto FC, it can be tough for followers and fans to see promising homegrown players being released. But while the release of 4 of these players in a 6-month span can warrant scepticism, the proportions of the failure should not be exaggerated.

It has often been said that the most difficult contract to get as a professional player is the second, rather than the first. The first can be gotten purely based on promise, while to be rewarded with the second requires a delivery on that promise.

Stinson did show promise. But playing for the Aron Winter/Paul Mariner Toronto FC teams might not have been the best for the development of a player. Hopefully, he will rebound and find an opportunity elsewhere and live up to the promise that he showed.

One thing to take from the Stinson waiver, however, is that young, promising players should not be sitting on the bench, but should rather be sent out for playing time. While I have argued against Canadian teams partnering with USL PRO teams, it should not keep the teams from utilizing the partnership between the leagues to ensure loan deals for promising, young players. In an ideal situation, Stinson wouldn’t have been in Toronto last year, but somewhere else on a loan deal developing as a player.

The Vancouver Whitecaps have drawn criticism from various angles for the lack of playing time given to their Canadian players. Whether or not this criticism is warranted, the club appears to have seen the necessity for playing time for its young players, as CSN reports that Bryce Alderson, Ben Fisk and Caleb Clarke will be loaned to the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL.

Obviously, this makes it even less likely for us to see a Canada-eligible player take the pitch for Vancouver. But these players will gain so much more from getting games every week in the NASL, rather than sitting in the stands for the Whitecaps (yes, the stands).

With manager Martin Rennie’s relationship with, and knowledge of, his old team, this also bodes well in ensuring that Carolina is the right place for these prospects to develop. It is hard to imagine that Rennie would send the players to Carolina if he did not judge that they would get regular playing time and be in an environment where their skills are developed.

That the Whitecaps are sending their homegrowns out to mature, rather than languishing on the bench, is a good step and, hopefully, the Impact and TFC will follow their lead.

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.