Success Abroad, But At What Local Cost?

The history of Canadian football is permeated with geographical complexities, infrastructural failings, and a collective exasperation amongst native fans—but has a newly-established league put an end to decades of disillusionment? In this five-part series, Ryan Murray attempts to understand whether the Canadian Premier League is the vehicle that will help to awake a sleeping giant from its slumber, and re-address the balance of power across the North American footballing landscape. Legitimate hope or another false dawn? Let’s find out.
Artwork by Onkar Shirsekar

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Vancouver Whitecaps, CF Montréal, and Toronto FC have taken advantage of their inclusion in the MLS, reaping the sporting and financial rewards of competing in the continent’s most prestigious league. As a consequence, each now enjoys a privileged position in the context of North American soccer.

But exactly how successful have Canada’s three MLS representatives been? And what is the best barometer for measuring the productivity of their efforts? Of course, as is the case in any sporting scenario, the standard of performances on the pitch and the amount of silverware in the trophy cabinet will always offer the sharpest indication of a club’s prosperity.

The Whitecaps have featured in the CONCACAF Champions League—the elite club tournament for the North and Central American regions (the geographical expanse governed by the CONCACAF confederation)—on two occasions over the last decade. Although this may seem a fairly paltry return, tournament participation is a respectable achievement in itself when only a select handful of MLS sides qualify each season.

Vancouver navigated the CONCACAF Champions League in consecutive seasons, appearing in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 editions of the competition. Drawn into a fiercely competitive group, the Blue-and-Whites fell at the first hurdle in their inaugural continental campaign. Seattle Sounders, also of the MLS’…

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Author : Ryan Murray

Publish date : 2023-11-16 15:30:00

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