I could introduce a litany of excuses including a busy start to the work year, moving into a new house, a tortured week spent with no internet, but the truth is it was a hard time to be excited about Canadian soccer.
I'm not sure anything has changed, but you can nevertheless expect some end-of-year housekeeping posts in the coming weeks. This is one of them.
I've tracked the percentage of minutes played by Canadian players for Canada's pro teams since 2009. The purpose of this exercise, at the beginning, was to test the notion that bringing professional soccer to this country will bring along with it more professional opportunities for Canadian players.
I can't say I've come up with a conclusive answer to the question. At first glance, the 2013 numbers are not encouraging. None of the MLS sides played Canadians for even 20% of the available minutes. Edmonton, playing in the NASL where next year they will be joined by Ottawa, managed a final number of 37.3%, a proportion that declined over the course of the season under Canadian manager Colin Miller.
And yet there are encouraging signs. In MLS, after Patrice Bernier, the next busiest Canadian players were the Toronto FC trio of Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry, and breakout man Jonathan Osorio. Rusell Teibert, 20 years old, also played a big part in Vancouver's season, especially in the early going, and led the team in assists (tied for 5th in MLS).
Regular watchers of FC Edmonton will be discouraged by the defenestration of Shaun Saiko, and the dwindling Canadian presence in their team over the course of the season, but some young players emerged including 17-year old Hanson Boakai.
As always, determining which players qualify as Canadian is not always easy. For example, I have counted Mallan Roberts (Edmonton) as Canadian all season, after hearing he was on course to earn his citizenship, but did not do so for Montreal's Wandrille Lefevre, who finds himself in a similar situation. Neither were year-long starters which won't greatly affect the numbers, but with further news regarding their allegiances I may have to go back and tweak a little.
Without further ado, here is the data. The full game-by-game breakdown can be found here.
|NASL Regular Season||8873||24617||36.04%|
|MLS Regular Season||5804||33560||17.3%|
|MLS Regular Season||3324||33644||9.9%|
|MLS Regular Season||1867||33578||5.6%|
The numbers for the MLS sides are the lowest, cumulatively, they have ever been. This may speak to the improved quality of the league but, if so, also signals that Canadian players are falling behind. Or it might not. Small sample sizes, and all that.
For comparison's sake, here are the end-of-year reports going back to 2009.
- 2012 (Edmonton 59.8%, Toronto 25.5%, Montreal 6.5%, Vancouver 0.3%)
- 2011 (Edmonton 77.3%, Montreal (NASL) 21.4%, Toronto 19.1%, Vancouver 5.8%)
- 2010 (Montreal 35.4%, Vancouver (NASL) 34.0%, Toronto 32.8%)
- 2009 (Vancouver 42.1%, Montreal 39.2%, Toronto 37.6%)
- 2008 (Vancouver 56.4%, Montreal 44.8%, Toronto 22.1%)