Before the CanPL decided to put everyone into a tizzy with what appeared to be an expansion teaser last night, CanPL Twitter was in, well, a tizzy over the decision of Forge to forgo playing for the Canadian CCL spot against TFC in exchange for hosting the final later in the year.
This whole affair has exposed a lot of petty and irrationality within the fanbases of both clubs and leagues. With the former you can understand it. Cheering for one collection of laundry over the other does ultimately require a little petty. It’s part of the fun, really.
With the latter though, it’s all a bit much. You can lament the fact that the MLS teams came before the CanPL teams, or debate whether the CanPL would have happened without the establishment of the MLS teams all you want, but it ultimately doesn’t matter.
A system with both is what we have and it’s what we’re going to have for a long time. So, we have to figure out how to co-exist and how to maximize its benefit to the game.
Before we continue, let’s address the opinion of the minority of zealots out there that feel that the best thing that could happen to Canadian soccer would be to force the three MLS teams out of that league and into the CanPL. I don’t wish to be aggressive in saying this, but that idea is…not fully thought out.
A conservative estimate would suggest to me that about 80% of Canadians that watch domestic club soccer are fans of one of the three MLS teams. Likely at least half of those fans don’t know the CanPL exists. Almost all of them would assume their team was being downgraded — or maybe even folded — if they were forced to move leagues and many, if not most, would stop going to games.
The three teams would also invest less money, including at the development level, which is almost entirely to the benefit of Canadian players.
Kind of hard to understand how any of that would help Canadian soccer.
So, we have to figure out how to best get along here.
Which brings me back to the whole Voyageurs Cup fiasco. The reality is that the game could not take place right now. Yet there was a need for a Canadian spot to be filled for the CCL, which starts in less than a month.
We can quibble about why Forge couldn’t train and look for blame, but what’s the point now? They couldn’t train. That’s all that matters.
So, they came up with a pretty good solution. This is actually an example of the two sides working together to find something that works for everyone.
And it really does work for everyone. The reason many are failing to see this is because they are focusing on the perk rather than the prize.
It’s a perk of winning the Voyageurs Cup that a team gets to play in the CCL. You don’t win the Voyageurs Cup by winning the CCL Qualification Game. That’s because that game doesn’t exist.
The insane focus on the CCL spot is actually pissing me off a little as it’s completely disrespectful to the Voyageurs Cup as a competition on its own accord. It’s one thing when American observers crap on the VCup out of ignorance (which they have for years). It’s quite another for Canadians themselves to lose sight of the fact that THIS IS A CUP FINAL.
It’s a cup final that Forge is still in. In fact, they’re going to host it. That’s a win for Forge, who are still very much in the running for the prize that really matters, the Voyageurs Cup.