MLS announces changes to roster rules for Canadian players

by RYAN BRISTER

Major League Soccer announced today with the Canadian Soccer Association a number of changes and new programs designed to advance youth development of Canadian players.

Notable among these is a rule change that will allow for certain Canadian players to qualify as domestic players for all of MLS’ 20 teams. Players who joined MLS academies or approved youth clubs before turning 16 will be eligible.

In the past, all Canadian players have been counted as internationals when playing on teams south of the border. The same is not true for Americans who play for Canadian clubs. This has long been a frustration for Canadians, who argue that it limits their opportunities within the league.

MLS teams are only afforded eight international slots on their rosters, though they can be traded.

The rule will apply to nine players currently in the league who meet the requirements. Most notable among these is Vancouver’s Russel Teibert.

The league will also be expanding the Generation Adidas program to Canada, in the hopes of identifying and acquiring top Canadian youth talent. Players signed to Generation Adidas contracts do not count against the salary cap.

In addition, MLS and the CSA will be creating a joint taskforce focused on improving Canadian youth development.

It is no coincidence that these moves are announced today, in the build-up to the second leg of the Eastern Conference final between Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact. Commissioner Don Garber is in Toronto for the occasion.