Posted on February 3, 2012
By Jay O’Burgess
It is hard as an outsider looking in at Canada and not feel a fair bit of sympathy for her.
It is one of the most coveted places on the face of the earth. Beautiful and alluring and her people are among the most courteous I have ever met but for all it’s economic and progressive sway Canada is often classified as a subordinate to it’s neighbor to the south.
America has the bigger population, has more influence on world events and when in comes to sport the nation certainly are out in front except in hockey; I heard Canada is pretty good at that.
Soccer, however, holds a far bleaker outcast for the Canadians.
I have said it numerous times. Canada is simply not good enough internationally for a country it’s size, a country of such high wealth and a country with high emphasis on sports. Canadian soccer is at crawl, which I simply can’t understand but the saving grace for Canada is its affinity with America.
Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps, will be joined by the Montreal Impact in this upcoming MLS season. MLS, being a young league, probably took this cross-national set-up from the likes of NBA, MLB and NHL. The NBA has the Toronto Raptors and once upon a time the Vancouver Grizzles before they moved the franchise to Memphis, Tenn. The Toronto Blue Jays is the sole representative for Canada in Major League Baseball. Not to be outshone in their own national sport Canada has a flurry of hockey teams challenging for the Stanley Cup — Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks.
So Canada is well incorporated into America sports leisure and the latest Canadian outfit plying its trade in the upper leagues is Montreal and I think they will add a different dynamic to North American soccer, I hope.
All I have are assumptions and hopes. I assume that the Impact will have a great atmosphere, a different atmosphere from the rest of the league.
Let us not forget that this is a French Canadian side and I want to assume that the bulk of their fans are of French Canadian extract so a different and for lack of a better word breed of fan will be entering the league and that can only be an exciting for North American soccer. I assume they have a natural hatred for their fellow Canadians for political and cultural reasons. So games against Toronto and Vancouver, I assume, will be as lively as the Seattle and Portland derby.
Some of my hopes may, however, not happen. I hoped Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea would have joined the Quebec-based side. He could have been the symbol of the club. I’m looking at as a totally symbolic gesture. Imagine a Frenchman leading a team with a Bourbon tinge. To me, that would have been very cool thing but Anelka is playing with Shanghai in China. I hope and this probably too much to ask for that Montreal play with a French flair but that’s me just being a purist. But my biggest hope is that they are competitive right off the bat.
Vancouver and Toronto, in their first MLS seasons, really were not very good. Maybe it takes a bedding down period but here is the Impact, which will add an uniqueness to the league. As it stands Canada is playing catch-up to both America and Mexico and I can’t see why they can’t be on par with their southern neighbors.
The best American player still active to me Clint Dempsey. He plays for Fulham, not bad. His Mexican equivalent plays Manchester United, Javier Hernandez. Canada’s best player Dwayne De Rosario bounces around Major League from Houston to Toronto to New York and now Washington and he is in his 30s. That just speaks volumes of the state of Canuck soccer. Hopefully, the three teams the “Great White North,” can produce some stellar players.
Categories: Canada, Guest Writer, My Two Cents, North America
Tags: Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Impact, Nicolas Anelka, Ottawa Senators, Stanley Cup, Toronto FC, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps, Winnipeg Jets