If Canada advances to the World Cup, if the United States does not do so, blame it on Commissioner Dan Carper, who brought the MLS to Toronto 14 years ago – or credit depends on your vision.
At least Duan Rollins sees it. Since some people know more about Canadian football than the 44-year-old writer and podcaster from Toronto, let’s see what he has to say.
“The most important turning point in Canadian football came in 2007, when the MLS came to the country,” he says. “In a way, it professionalized the whole system. Academies began to emerge.
Rollins brought to light Canadian football, ending a period known as the “Dark Years”, as evidenced by the fact that Canada played against the United States in the final of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on Sunday. Both teams drew against United States El Salvador and Honduras in Toronto, Canada, in the opening matches of the 14-match series last Thursday.
Seven of the 23 players on Canada’s list are playing in Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto, three cities that now have MLS teams and nine players from the national team who started in academies or teams that did not exist before MLS came to the North. The eight-team Canadian Premier League (CPL) was formed four years ago, the first full professional and national first division league in Canada since 1992.
“The impetus for all of this,” Rollins said, was the arrival of MLS.
There is no player like left-back Alfonso Davis. Born to Liberian parents in a refugee camp in Ghana, Davis emigrated to Canada when he was 5 years old and got his start in football through a post-school program for elementary school students in the city of Edmonton. The Vancouver Whitecaps signed him into their residential academy when he was 14 years old. Three years later, he moved to the German company Bayern Munich with a $ 22 million transfer, then an MLS record.
The 20-year-old Davis is now the first Canadian player to reach the World Cup qualifiers in this century, a credit to the fact that the field has expanded to six to eight teams. Canada allowed their entry into earnings by beating Haiti in two games in June.
“There’s a little bit of luck in this,” Rollins said.
If MLS had laid the foundation for the growth of Canadian football, the cream of that crop would have been harvested by John Hertmann of England, who previously made the women’s team a world power.
Canada went to the quarterfinals of a major international women’s tournament only once before 2011, when Hertman took charge and took home two Olympic bronze medals and the knockout stages of the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Canada won its first Olympic football title last month in Tokyo under Hertman’s assistant Bev Priestman.
When Hertman, 46, took office in 2018, the men’s program of long-term CONCACAF runner-up was in a very bad state. But then he won 21-6-1, the 2019 League of Nations over the United States. Against Americans since 1985.
This summer, Hertmann’s team has beaten Costa Rica, which has played in four of the last five World Cups, and has led Mexico to injury before reaching the Gold Cup semi – finals, having gone so far in the Canadian Federation Championship since 2007.
Hertmann has struggled to qualify for the first World Cup since 1986 – the second in history – and the final goal is not to travel to Qatar next year, but to prepare a team for the 2026 World Cup to be hosted by Canada. USA and Mexico.
“This is a 10 or 12 year period where there will be many collaborators from the current Canadian Premier League and grassroots clubs to MLS to private academies,” he said Saturday. “What we have created behind the scenes is a clear purpose, brotherhood, this spirit has never existed before. We have created a technical identity that has allowed some of our best players to get themselves the best.”
“Yes, I would like to borrow for this. But this is a united country.”
The first steps on that path were opened to Kanarpai MLS 14 years ago.
“When we expanded to Canada, our goal was to help qualify for the World Cup,” he said. “But the parallel goal is to help build the game across the country, and thanks to our three clubs and Canada Soccer, we see benefits.”
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