The Five Billion Person Party

Notes of a wandering American soccer fan

Oh, Canada

Posted by steigs on February 13, 2008

We American fans often complain about US Soccer.  Well, as Pitch Invasion reminds us, we’re light years ahead of our neighbors to the north:

On August 28th Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) president Colin Linford resigned, a decision that brought Canadian supporters back to reality. The CSA is essentially a federation run by volunteers who oversee a $14-million business. When Linford resigned he said a culture of amateurism prevailed and the only way to save the federation was to disband the CSA.

The Globe and Mail provides some historical background:

Once Sharpe was gone, the CSA collapsed into chaos. Internal bickering and Titanic-like intransigence of its board of directors – which includes representatives (and bickering, conflicting agendas) from all the provinces – has left the CSA with no president, no technical director, no CEO, and on the hook for a big (unspecified) settlement to former executive Fred Nykamp, who was lured away from his old job at Basketball Canada, only to be dumped to the curb without serving a single day in office.

Wait, didn’t Canada just host an apparently successful U-20 World Cup?  Yes, yes it did.  But that was after spending years messing around, per the Globe and Mail:

Early in the decade, it was mired in a misguided, impractical plan to launch a new coast-to-coast pro loop, the Canadian United Soccer League. Organizers had significant sponsorship money lined up – but only if they could sign up eight owners and a national television deal. They couldn’t. Turned out most of the energy was funnelled into an “affinity card” scheme, that would essentially direct-market to Canada’s soccer parents, offering modest discounts in exchange for enduring an ongoing advertising blitz.

An affinity card scheme?  Makes you pretty grateful for MLS, such as it is.  No wonder they love Toronto FC so much up there. 

There’s an opportunity for Canada in CONCACAF right now.  They’ve got some good players (hello, DeRosario!)  The US only beat them in last year’s Gold Cup semi-final game on a controversial late goal.  They’ve got a real home field in Toronto for qualifying.  And once you get past Mexico and the US, CONCACAF does not look that tough in the upcoming 2010 World Cup qualifying.  Costa Rica?  Failed to impress in Germany.  Honduras has Suazo, who tore up Serie A last season.  Trinidad & Tobago is aging and torn by in-fighting.  Panama?  Guatemala?

Their semi-final group is, like it was for the ’06 Cup, a toughie.  Mexico, Jamaica, Honduras.  (Assuming no immense flops in the preliminary round.)  If you assume El Tri go through, it’ll take some good games but the Canucks could get through to the Hex.  And if they can get there, I don’t look forward to the US going to Toronto if the Canadians are still feeling aggrieved over the ’07 Gold Cup game…

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