Thursday, July 29, 2010

CONCACAF Champions League important for Canadian development

After Toronto FC's important 1-0 win of Honduran side Club Deportivo Motagua, I began to read the debate around how important or not the tournament is to TFC. For those who oppose TFC taking the tournament seriously, the argument goes; TFC is in the hunt for its first MLS playoff in club history, therefore the club needs a less crowded fixture list down the stretch in order to help qualify. This importance on making the playoffs is made even more urgent considering the MLS Cup is going to be held at BMO Field in November.

What the playoff only pundits seem to be missing is the fact that a run into the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League will go a long way in improving soccer all round in Canada, plus bringing TFC extra revenue for future signings.

Montreal's run into the quarter finals of the tournament in 2008 brought not only a level of excitement about the game (The first leg of the quarters was held in front of 51,000 at the Olympic Stadium), but it also brought more talented players into the Impact academy. What the run also did was place the issue of soccer development in the minds of the public. It also infused the grass roots players with a goal to shoot for, play against the best in the region for your home town club. This was an aspect of Canadian soccer that was missing for a long time. In the past there would be little incentive to play in the Canadian pro ranks as it was thought to lead you nowhere. Now the promise of champions league soccer is a reason young players can choose to stay and develop in Canada. This is especially important for TFC as they are still growing their academy, and trying to convince their young players to sign with the club once they turn 18.

The Voyageurs Cup, Canada's one ticket to Champions League
The tournament is also important to the bottom line for TFC, no one can argue that at the minimum, 4 extra home games will hurt the club in the pocket book. The extra money can be used to help upgrade the stadium or build the long dreamed of training complex for both the senior and academy teams that the club wants so badly. As said earlier it will also provide funds for new signings that could help turn the club into league and region elites. Which at the end of the day is what every club wants, competing with the top clubs in CONCACAF helps to raise the team's profile both at home and abroad. It can also provide healthy competition from Vancouver and Montreal who will push to become better and represent Canada at the tournament. In the longer run what fans would like to see is more than one Canadian club be included in the running for the champions league, and with today's announcement of three new teams applying for NASL in Edmonton, Victoria and Ottawa we could see the Voyageurs Cup expand outside of the 3 teams currently involved.

In the end the CONCACAF Champions League is still a work in progress in terms of prestige, but if a Canadian club won it, soccer would really be on the map in Canada.


1 comment:

  1. You and your opponent have the same conference record will receive one share of the conference during the season, then lost ... if you get second place.