International Quandary Faces Whitecaps In MLS

As another round of international games finish up today, one question that the Vancouver Whitecaps need to weigh up is what benefit having currently capped international players on their roster brings.

There were 22 MLS players away on international duty for the games between September 3rd and 7th. Some in competitive qualifiers for Euro 2012 and the African Nations Cup and others just for friendlies. In total, 11 different countries were represented by MLS players, with Jamaica claiming six of them and Canada five.

This number would have been even higher if the US had a game over the period as well.

Whereas it’s great for the League to have top quality domestic and international players plying their trade in MLS, it ridiculous that the League doesn’t follow protocol elsewhere in the world and call off the domestic program, if not for every team, but for teams who have a number of players away on international duty.

In last weekend’s MLS games, New York Red Bulls had four players missing in their 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake. Toronto had three missing in their own 1-0 loss to FC Dallas, namely the Canadian trio of Dwayne De Rosario, Julian de Guzman and Nana Attakora.

There is no doubt that the missing players had a big part to play in both sides going down and Toronto’s plight should provide a cautionary tale to the Whitecaps, but one which will be hard to avoid in some respects.

Sure you want to see the best players you can pulling on the Caps jersey, but when you’re playing in a league with mickey mouse rules, you follow this road at your peril.

Even East Fife were getting their Scottish First Division games called off when they had their three Trinidad and Tobago players away on international duty.

It’s going to be hard for the Caps though. They need Canadians and if these Canadians do well then they’re going to be called up by Stephen Hart. It’s great for the Club on the one hand and a disaster on the other if games clash with the MLS season and the MLS don’t change their rules.

In many ways, it actually would help Vancouver (and Toronto) if Canada continue to play poorly and miss qualifications. That’s a terrible state of affairs to be in for the game in this country.

Canadian internationals aside, when the Caps are looking at non domestic players in general they need to be careful not to have too many players from the same country and even the same region. I personally think that avoiding too many Concacaf players is the way to go but going for those not in the international picture and those retired from international football has its merits as well, just as long as they are still on their game (which obviously isn’t always the case).

Looking at out current roster, we’ve lost Nizar Khalfan recently as he was away on international duty for Tanzania. He has also been called up for October, right during the play off run. Cornelius Stewart will also be missing for the playoffs as he has been called up for St Vincent & Grenadines for Digicel Caribbean Cup games.

Teitur Thordarson has moved swiftly and cut both players from the final 30 man roster for the remainder of the season. A shame for the players but a good move for the Club as we need to have players who will be with us in the playoffs gelling quickly just now.

This is not a luxury that the Caps will have come MLS, so their signings need to be shrewd and not just take in talent. It’s a sad state of affairs but that’s what we’re faced with in the Leagues in North America. If we do this right though then it will be an added bow to our MLS arrow next season.

Authored by: Michael McColl

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