The claim of most Canadian is based on the percentage of total minutes played by Canadian players. A short summary of the data reveals a close race:
It's worth pointing out that the total percentage of 34.0% of minutes played represents the lowest total in the three years I've been tracking these numbers. It also represents the closest race of the three years. Toronto had led until mid-summer, when Montreal took over the lead for good.
The team-by-team numbers tell an interesting story:
|NASL Regular Season||10422||28635||36.4%|
Montreal began padding their Canadian minutes statistic about the same time they signed goal-machine Ali Gerba in mid-summer. With Gerba eating big time minutes at forward, in place of non-Canadians Roberto Brown and Peter Byers who had held down the spot earlier in the year, Montreal's standing in these rankings improved. Perhaps not coincidentally, their league fortunes also turned with Gerba.
The number was also helped by a significant mid-season injury to Matt Jordan, allowing Canadian keeper Srdjan Djekanovic to earn 90 minutes weekly for over a month.
|NASL Regular Season||9819||29655||33.1%|
Vancouver was languishing at the bottom of the table of three for much of the season. The only Canadians who were regular starters throughout the season were Luca Bellisomo and Martin Nash. The late-season acquisition of 90-minute man Terry Dunfield, and the emergence of Philippe Davies as a consistent threat down the wing allowed for a more significant Canadian presence late in the year, as evidenced by the high number for the NASL playoffs.
Still, the 34.0% rating represents a low for Vancouver, who were over 50% in 2008, and over 40% in 2009. Some of this can surely be attributed to bringing in players expected to feature in MLS next season. Like Montreal, Vancouver's teams in the Voyageurs Cup were the "least Canadian" of any competition.
|MLS Regular Season||9231||29560||31.2%|
|CONCACAF Champions League||2884||7854||36.7%|
If Toronto fans feel the need for some consolation, they can point to the fact that they had the highest total Canadian minutes, thanks to the 4 more matches played (8 matches in CONCACAF Champions League, compared to only 4 in league playoffs for Montreal and Vancouver). Like last year, it was a small core of players earning the bulk of Toronto's minutes. Adrian Cann, Dwayne De Rosario, Nana Attakora, and Julian de Guzman started most of Toronto's games this season, but few others got much of a run-out. It might not be fair to point out that Toronto's Canadian minute decline in mid-season coincided fairly neatly with their declining league placing; the commonality between the two was a long leave by Attakora.
Toronto made more liberal use (some would say too liberal) of its marginal Canadian talents during the two cup competitions. For example, Gabe Gala started each of the Voyageurs Cup matches, but couldn't buy a moment on the pitch in the regular season. The academy youngsters were given a chance in a number of the CONCACAF fixtures, but only Nicholas Lindsay was able to work a regular place in league play.
As Vancouver sets up for MLS play, and with Montreal another year closer, I would be surprised to see any rise in the numbers in 2011. The fact remains that there are not yet a lot of Canadian pros at this level, and even fewer who are willing to play for low North American salaries. As always, I'll be tracking the minutes and you can follow it here.
You can also check the game-by-game details for each of the teams.