In case you have forgotten, Canada's men crashed out of the Gold Cup after failing to hold a 1-0 lead against Panama, a team we will have to be able to beat consistently in order to make anything of ourselves in this region.
Canada's qualification for the U17 World Cup should be seen as an achievement of itself, so I won't be harsh on these teenagers. But after getting the needed result against England following a wild goal by the keeper Quillan Roberts, they Canadians played down to their opponent and could only manage a 0-0 draw with Rwanda that resulted in elimination.
And the not-yet completed Women's World Cup featured a 3-game group stage run by Canada that seems the very definition of my otherwise much-hated phrase 'epic fail'.
It would be nice, then, if the Canadian soccer fan could take a break from these failures by enjoying the on-field successes of the bigger Canadian pro teams. Unfortunately the struggles of Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver have been making that quite difficult.
In MLS, Vancouver are last in the West, while Toronto, with their league-worst goal differential, clings to a small lead over New England in the cellar, though the Revs have 3 games in hand.
In the NASL, the Montreal Impact, who had to have been considered preseason favourites to win the league, sit second last in the table and have managed a paltry 11 goals in 14 games, and have disposed of coach Marc dos Santos. Only FC Edmonton can claim to be having a successful season, sitting a surprising second under manager Harry Sinkgraven.
I don't live in or near any of these cities and like to consider myself somewhat of a neutral, though my sympathies lie more western than east. However, when I do pay attention to Canadian professional soccer it is with an eye to player development and seeing these players develop and flourish as national teamers.
For that reason over the last few years I have tracked the on-field Canadian content of teams at the NASL/USL-1 level or higher. You can check back to see who has fielded the most Canadian squads over the past few years
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS - 9.3% CANADIAN**
Whitecaps fans, as with TFC supporters before them, were sold the promise that the entry of a team into MLS would be a vehicle for the further development of Canadian talent. As with Toronto, it may be too soon to expect the residency program to be stocking the first team with young Canadian starlets but I don't think anybody expected Vancouver's Canadian content to be so paltry.
The team has the distinction of having twice this season fielding a lineup without any Canadian players on the pitch whatsoever. Over the course of the season only 3 Canadians have played at all: near-regular Terry Dunfield, a national team utility midfielder; youngster Russell Teibert, who has not seen the playing time some think he deserves; and the already-departed Kevin Harmse.
Here's the breakdown of their Canadian content by minutes played:
|MLS Regular Season||1523||18661||8.2%|
TORONTO FC - 15.9% CANADIAN
Toronto FC, despite a much greater number of Canadian players on their senior roster, has fielded only marginally more Canadian lineups throughout the season.
When healthy, Julian de Guzman has been a regular. So was Adrian Cann before he suffered a season-ending injury. The freezing out of Nana Attakora has caused Toronto's Canadian percentages to suffer. 25-year old first year TFC man Gianluca Zavarise has been a fairly regular substitute.
Whether it is a sign of a commitment to developing young Canadian players or a signal of the team's lack of depth, several TFC Academy products have featured, including Oscar Cordon, Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan and Matt Stinson.
|MLS Regular Season||3354||20695||16.2%|
MONTREAL IMPACT - 23.5% CANADIAN
This has been a disaster season for the Impact. Marc dos Santos has 'resigned', the team is languishing at the bottom of a shallow NASL table, they can't score to save their lives, and much of their veteran core has been underperforming.
Of the Canadians, only Ali Gerba and Simon Gatti have been getting consistent minutes. There are few Canadian youngsters around the team. For a squad looking to build toward MLS in 2012 there are holes everywhere, not least in the Canadian department.
|NASL Regular Season||3255||13843||23.5%|
FC EDMONTON - 76.9% CANADIAN
FC Edmonton have been a surprise success story almost any way you slice it. Apart from the Voyageurs Cup, in which they bowed out somewhat meekly against Toronto, they have been an on-field success. There seems to be a growing fan-base and a budding excitement around the team.
Most exciting to the non-Edmontonian Canadian supporter is the seeming dedication of team management to give a chance to Canadian and local players. Edmonton regularly fields 8 Canadian starters, and others will enter the match as substitutes. Young players such as Kyle Porter, Alex Surprenant and Paul Hamilton seem destined to climb a rung or two on the professional ladder in the near future.
Mathematically, FC Edmonton have probably already assured themselves the title of Most Canadian team in 2011, and it looks good on them. Is it a coincidence the most Canadian squad has also been the most successful?
|NASL Regular Season||10648||13841||76.9%|
** A club's Canadian percentage is determined by dividing minutes played by Canadians by the total of all minutes played by all players. Detailed match-by-match breakdowns of Canadian appearances are can be viewed here.