Perhaps it’s a no win situation. This week, the Canadian Soccer Association announced its roster for the run up to the Under 20 World Cup in Egypt this fall.

Either by design or by default, players professionally trained in Canada will represent half of this year’s roster — a trend starkly different in years past, when players with a European pedigree were given the nod.

It’s a testament to the growing soccer infrastructure here as clubs like Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps are having an ever-growing influence on developing talent.

Vancouver alone speaks for seven of the players on this year’s squad — and for good reason. Their professional development program — widely considered one of best in North America — begins as early as age 11 for some athletes and combines development programs, a residency system with scholarships and two tiers of professional ranks.

But, if the Whitecaps get their wish and join the MLS in 2011, it may all be for not.

As it stands now, the MLS has a very backward approach to player development.

Teams are encouraged to have academies and produce their own talent, but it was only last year when they were allowed to begin signing those players to contracts — and MLS rules state a team can only sign one academy player every three years.

If Vancouver gets in, their residency could take a big hit as players see their prospects of joining the local professional ranks dry up. That could mean a return of less locally groomed talent in Canada.

The good news is: with the MLS expanding to 18 teams by 2011, teams will need to start signing development players to accommodate the demand.

The bad news is: as it stands now, not one team in the MLS has signed a player from their academy.

TFC Blog

For details on Toronto FC’s signing of Canadian Adrian Serioux and a schedule of the 2009 Nutrilite Canadian Championship, visit

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