NEW YORK – The 2011 MLS season will see the league’s two Canadian clubs operate on a more even playing field compared to their US-based counterparts.
The league announced on Friday that players considered domestic players in the United States will also be considered domestic players in Canada.
“We want to make sure the MLS teams from Canada are competitive with other MLS teams and, at the same time, we want to make sure we’re creating the best environment for domestic players to develop in Canada,” MLS executive vice president of player relations and competition Todd Durbin told MLSsoccer.com.
“The backbone of the league has been and will continue to be the US domestic players, and that is a very large pool upon which our teams can draw from. If the Canadian teams are limited in their ability to draw from that pool, there’s a possibility that it could impact them competitively on the field.”
With the freedom to select players from the pool of US and Canadian domestic players, the Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC and future Canadian clubs will also be required to maintain a minimum of three Canadian players on their roster. Montreal is set to join the league in 2012.
The rule sets the first ever domestic-player minimum for MLS clubs in league history. Durbin expects Canadian teams to regularly exceed this number.
“Without this minimum, you could in theory have had the teams in Canada with no domestic players,” Durbin said. “That was not the goal when we agreed to allow U.S. domestics to count as domestics in Canada.”
In order to monitor the impact on the development of Canadian players, MLS has partnered with the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) in setting up a task force that will continually evaluate the rule, which expires after the 2015 season.
“MLS and the CSA will be working together to ensure that there’s optimal player development opportunities for players in Canada,” Durbin said. “We’ll also be reviewing the number of Canadian players on each MLS roster with the idea of balancing the need for MLS teams to be competitive and our collective commitment to developing players in Canada.”