For North American Soccer League fans hoping to see considerable expansion into Canada, Duane Rollins has a report today which will come as a bit of a blow. The League had been talking about forming a Canadian conference, but today's report seems to indicate that Canadian Soccer will soon have a league of its very own. Here's what Rollins had to say:
CSN has confirmed that Canada will have a league of its own in 2017. A source close to the negotiations said that a formal announcement will be made late in 2015 or early in 2016.
The league will have between eight and 10 teams located across the country. There is some direct CFL involvement, as well as ownership from other sports. The source was unable to confirm what specific cities were in negotiations, citing confidentiality concerns.
The league will not be affiliated with the NASL. Although there were some early conversations about partnering with the NASL (that were reported on by CSN) the source said those talks were "greatly exaggerated."
Additionally, it was stressed that Traffic Sports were at no time involved in the discussions.
The NASL was always a bit hamstrung by US Soccer in regards to Canadian expansion, as no more than 25% of the league's clubs are currently permitted to be outside of the United States. With just nine American sides at the moment (becoming ten in 2016), the league is currently limited to just a trio of Canadian sides, meaning they can only add one in addition to Edmonton and Ottawa.
That said, this reported league ought to be big for the development of the game in Canada, and there's nothing preventing MLS or the NASL from checking in with some of the more successful clubs about switching allegiances in the future. Who knows, maybe US Soccer will even relax these regulations, allowing more sides from places like Canada and Puerto Rico to compete in US leagues.
There's no word yet on whether this will have any effect on the Hamilton expansion side, which was expected to be announced relatively shortly.