US players deemed domestic for Canadian teams

New rule allows Whitecaps, TFC to compete on level playing field

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.

“You could in theory have a team with no Canadian domestics
on it,” Durbin said. “That is clearly not our goal and it’s not the goal of
Vancouver or Toronto, who are committed to developing players.”

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.”