Thursday, June 4, 2009

Toronto v Vancouver - what's better for the Canadian National squad

It will all be decided when Toronto face the Impact in Montreal on which team will represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League. The money is on Vancouver right now, who have the points and the goals. Toronto needs to score 4 goals and win. The Whitecaps did Montreal a favour last season by knocking TFC out of the competition and it can sure bet that the Impact want to return the favour.

It has led to much debate about which league is better and is the MLS all it's cracked up to be. I'm a strong believer and many of the players that have played in both have said the same thing. Many of the guys are interchangeable. You could replace two-thirds of the team with USL players and you wouldn't see any noticeable drop off in play, but that one-third of the MLS players is where the real change happens. Those players, and most people can name them, Donovan, De Rosario, Blanco, Angel, etc... there's no denying that those players are above and beyond the talent in the USL. Having said all that, one player does not make a team and relying to heavily on your one player won't work. It happened last season when Montreal won and it could happen again this season if Vancouver wins. It is also why these games are actually played and Toronto isn't automatically crowned Champions. The same can be said for those who say that Vancouver can't do as well as Toronto in the tournament. It's not played on paper folks.

As for which team should represent Canada so that the Canadian National Team can benefit from the event is another story entirely. Last season I was hopeful that Montreal would win the tournament because of a large Canadian contingent on the squad. I felt that those players would benefit from the experience of playing in hostile environments, different styles, different travel and even different weather. Montreal's Canadian players could benefit from such experience and put that towards the National squad.

This season, there are certainly two viewpoints. Looking at Toronto, you have a back four consisting of Canadians: Attakora, Serioux, Brennan and Harmes. Plus you have Greg Sutton possibly playing in the competition and Dwayne De Rosario leading the midfield. The experience they would gain would be immense. As mention above, good experience and something that they could bring to the National side.

On the flip side of the coin, the 'Caps have been using Ethan Gage and Marcus Haber in their line-up throughout the season. Two players that are the future of the Canadian National team and the future of Vancouver's MLS squad. Would the pressure be too great for them at a young age or would the experience they gain at this age in this tournament be more valuable to the National side in 2014 and the Whitecaps in 2011. The Whitecaps supplied the U-20 Canadian squad with 5 players (7 if you count the two on loan in Germany). Having those players possibly involved would be tremendous for Canadian soccer. It would also provide more competition for those players looking to make the 2011 MLS Vancouver team.

It really comes down to your own individual thought process. Do you root for the team that has the young building blocks of a Canadian future, or guys that are currently in the Canadian senior squad fold. While I appreciate the fact that the competition would be great for guys on the National side already, I think the future of Canadian soccer is more important and would love to see the experienced gained from the CONCACAF Champions League for guys like Haber, Gage and Edwini-Bonsu.

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