Canadian Talents are Assets, not Liabilities

Clubs aren't using their Canadian players correctly, and more needs to be done for the local player
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, April 11, 2013

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

Saturday, April 6, marked a special day. After a month of league play, the Vancouver Whitecaps finally joined the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC in fielding a player eligible for playing internationally for Canada.

The Out of Touch blog is doing a great job of tracking the minutes played by Canadians for the Canadian teams. And unsurprisingly for anyone following the professional game in this country, Toronto FC is taking the lead with Canadians with 15.6% of minutes played.

However, with Patrice Bernier playing a key role in the Impact midfield and Karl Ouimette going 90 minutes twice as a replacement for the injured Alessandro Nesta, Montreal is very close at 12.7 %. Russell Teibert’s 68 minutes in the game against San Jose pushed Vancouver from a remarkable 0% to 1.4%, but playing this much means the Whitecaps have already played more than 50 % of the minutes they gave to Canadians last year.

The lack playing time is something I have touched on before, and I would, however, like to stress that I am not calling for players getting more minutes than they deserve. But if developmental players are not good enough for even a few minutes here and there, they should be sent on loan rather than not even making the match day roster.

Because of this, it is disappointing that the rumoured loans from VWFC to the Carolina RailHawks haven't materialized yet. While the loans could still happen, it would be extremely disappointing seeing a heralded academy such as the Whitecaps’ only producing players to sit in the stands. Luckily Vancouver manager Bob Lenarduzzi told the TSN FC podcast yesterday that the club is working on doing this. But because the rumours have been going on for so long, I won’t trust anything until it is official.

Soccer is about much more than the game on the field. If the only thing that mattered was the game and the quality of it, we’d all only be watching Manchester Uniteds, FC Barcelonas and Bayern Munichs of the world. But it is so much more. It is about pride, identity and representing the community.

Because of this, local players are so important. When Jonathan Osorio scored for Toronto FC, the goal meant a great deal because only a few years ago he was cheering for his hometown team in the stands. Local players bring the team and fans closer to each other, especially in younger leagues like MLS, and in a country like Canada.

This makes a talented Canadian player a core asset. If a Canadian MLS team can develop a local athlete into a competitor that deserves a place on the field, he will be worth incredibly more to the team than any journeyman play of similar quality.

Again I’d like to repeat that players shouldn’t be playing minutes if they don’t have to the sufficient quality. However, if they are there to play, they need to be more than merely squad fillers to live up to the Canadian quota.

Send them out on loan and let them get the minutes that will prepare them for playing in MLS. You will see that these players not only will help the teams get points, but also create a stronger bond with the fans and make the clubs stronger as organisations.

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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