The 2016 Major League Soccer season got underway on Sunday and it did so with an unprecedented number of Canadian players on MLS teams.
Last season saw 25 Canadian players on the rosters of MLS clubs, an increase of six on 2014. Despite some players moving on to new challenges outside of the league, that number has increased by another two, to 27 players for 2016.
Following last week’s signing of Molham Babouli to a MLS deal, Toronto lead the way with eight Canadians on their first team roster. Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact are both one behind with seven.
In total, just seven of the league’s 20 clubs boast at least one Canadian on their first team roster. The reason’s simple, and has little to do with talent and more to do with them taking up an international spot on US teams’ squads. Something which has cost potential draft picks, like Whitecaps Residency graduate Callum Irving, a deal.
The full breakdown of Canadian players currently in MLS, is as follows:
DALLAS (1 – Tesho Akindele)
D.C. UNITED (1 – Kofi Opare)
MONTREAL IMPACT (7 – Kyle Bekker, Patrice Bernier, Maxime Crépeau, Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Wandrille Lefevre, Maxim Tissot)
NEW YORK RED BULLS (1 – Karl Ouimette)
ORLANDO CITY (2 – Cyle Larin, Richie Laryea)
TORONTO (8 – Molham Babouli, Jay Chapman, Jordan Hamilton, Will Johnson, Chris Mannella, Ashtone Morgan, Jonathan Osorio, Quillan Roberts)
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (7 – Sam Adekugbe, Fraser Aird, Marco Bustos, Marco Carducci, Kianz Froese, Ben McKendry, Russell Teibert)
Canadians not counting as domestics in MLS is a subject that has raised the ire of Canadian fans and officials for many years now. It’s been debated and discussed so much already, and this isn’t the right time to do that again, but is it soon about to finally change?
“There’s been a lot of discussion about that,” Whitecaps Vice-President of Soccer Operations Greg Anderson told reporters at the ‘Caps media day on Friday. “They’ve done a lot of investigation, because originally MLS was saying US labour laws was the main issue there.
“They’ve been doing a lot of work, as a result of pressure from the CSA, but also from us. The league is looking at ways to try and get around it and are actually doing a lot of work on it. They’ve done a lot of work on the legal ramifications, also petitioning FIFA on it to see if there are any ways around it.
“Looking at potential ways to get around it, if a player has been playing in a Canadian development system for x number of years, then he automatically counts as a domestic.
“We haven’t got it across the line yet, but we’re making some progress on it, so there could be something that happens with respect to that this year. If not, I would expect that next year.”
If this proves to be the case, then it should open the doors to a lot more opportunities for Canadian talent in the league in the coming years, although the stark reality is that the top Canadian players can still make much more money overseas.
But that’s talk for another day. For now, we want to focus on the Canadian players that are already in MLS and this is the first of a new feature on AFTN where we’ll do a (hopefully) weekly running total to track the minutes and contributions of all the Canadian players in the league this season.
Which player will see the most game time? Who will contribute the most goals and assists (and saves) to his team? We’ll look at all that every week, as well as bringing you any standout plays from Canadian players in the league.
So with week one of the new season in the record books, let’s kick this new section off (we’ll have this in proper spreadsheet form as the season moves on).
Week one kicked off with just eight Canadian players seeing playing time. Of those, Orlando City’s Cyle Larin had the standout week, playing the full game of his side’s exciting 2-2 draw with RSL and contributing a goal and an assist, as you can see below.
MLS MINUTES PLAYED BY CANADIANS (RUNNING TOTAL)
Fraser Aird (Vancouver) – 90 (GP 1 / GS 1)
Will Johnson (Toronto) – 90 (GP 1 / GS 1)
Cyle Larin (Orlando) – 90 (GP 1 / GS 1)
Jonathan Osorio (Toronto) – 90 (GP 1 / GS 1)
Kianz Froese (Vancouver) – 66 (GP 1 / GS 1)
Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Montreal) – 37 (GP 1 / GS 0)
Tesho Akindele (Dallas) – 6 (GP 1 / GS 0)
Ashtone Morgan (Toronto) – 6 (GP 1 / GS 0)
DID NOT PLAY
Sam Adekugbe (Vancouver)
Molham Babouli (Toronto)
Kyle Bekker (Montreal)
Patrice Bernier (Montreal)
Marco Bustos (Vancouver)
Marco Carducci (Vancouver)
Jay Chapman (Toronto)
Maxime Crépeau (Montreal)
Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare (Montreal)
Jordan Hamilton (Toronto)
Richie Laryea (Orlando)
Wandrille Lefevre (Montreal)
Chris Mannella (Toronto)
Ben McKendry (Vancouver)
Kofi Opare (DC)
Karl Ouimette (NYRB)
Quillan Roberts (Toronto)
Russell Teibert (Vancouver)
Maxim Tissot (Montreal)
GOALS BY CANADIAN PLAYERS IN MLS IN 2016
Cyle Larin (Orlando) – 1
ASSISTS BY CANADIAN PLAYERS IN MLS IN 2016
Cyle Larin (Orlando) – 1