American-Based NASL Teams Will Now Count Canadians as Domestic

Nana Attakora

by JAKE NUTTING

The North American Soccer League has announced that all Canadian players will now count as domestics on rosters across the entire league. Previously, Canadians only had domestic status on teams in their native country.

“Canadian players have played a big role in the development of our league on the field,” NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal said. “We believe that this change will help us become better contributors to the growth of the game, not only in Canada, but in the U.S. as well.”

Under the old roster rules, American teams had to be shrewd about signing Canadian players as they would take up one of the team’s seven allotted international roster spots. The only way a player from north of the border could receive domestic status was by acquiring a green card.

With the new rules in place, Canadian and American players will now be on a more level playing field when trying to land a spot on an NASL roster. The shift in policy will be especially welcomed by Canadian players now that FC Edmonton is the only Canadian team left in the league and with no plans expansion into the country on the horizon.

The United Soccer League has given Canadians domestic status on its roster for many years. Major League Soccer opened the door Canadian internationals to receive domestic status on American rosters for the upcoming season, but the league’s new rules still limit which Canadian can qualify. Only Canadians in MLS’ Generation Adidas program or those who sign with an approved academy before or during the year they turn 16 and then sign their first professional contract with an MLS team or MLS affiliate in the USL can count as domestics.

With the two professional leagues directly below MLS now granting Canadians domestic status without conditions, many will continue to wonder why the top league in America is requiring Canadians to meet such strict criteria.