TORONTO — For a head coach whose team is on a four-game unbeaten streak, Ryan Nelsen did not sound like a happy man on Friday.
With national teams throughout the CONCACAF region now gearing up for the upcoming Gold Cup tournament, Nelsen has seen four of his players – Doneil Henry, Jonathan Osorio, Ashtone Morgan and Kyle Bekker – called up by the Canadian national team and all four are expected to depart for the Canadian training camp in the United States on July 2.
A proud former New Zealand international himself, Nelsen has always professed his support of players representing their countries in International competition. That said, he was candid in expressing his belief that there has to be some give and take between club and country, especially given the fact that TFC have to face off again arguably the two best teams in the league – Real Salt Lake and Montreal Impact – over the next six days.
“The Canadian national team has taken four of our players and a coach [goallkeeping coach Pat Onstad] as well without even a thank you,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “Other teams are complaining they have lost one player while we have lost four.
"Unfortunately, that is the problem we are in. We develop them and give them the opportunity more than any of the other clubs and then they take them away with not even a thank you or anything like that. It is a bit frustrating, especially when you have a game the next day and not such a big squad.”
When asked if TFC are in discussions with the Canadian Soccer Association to negotiate allowing Toronto to retain at least a player or two for one more day for the club’s match against Montreal on July 3, Nelsen suggested that the CSA has been inflexible and has not been particularly open to communicating on the topic.
“What is frustrating is that we let Canada Soccer use our facilities, we give them a coach and we try and develop as many good young players as we can,” Nelsen said. “All we are asking for is one day where we can keep a couple of players. Unfortunately, it seems to be one-way traffic between us.”
Nelsen also tempered his criticisms of the CSA by spreading some of the blame for his predicament to MLS schedule-makers.
“Scheduling probably has to be considered,” Nelsen stated. “To play two games in a week when the national teams are starting their training camps, it doesn’t make much sense. Again, it is probably a question for more intelligent people making those decisions.”
With several days still days left before his Canadian national team players are scheduled to depart for the Gold Cup, Nelsen expressed his hope that someone will respond to his pleas for one extra day with at least two of players.
“I won’t be able to put a squad together, especially if we get injuries at certain positions,” Nelsen said. “We’re just asking for a hand. I want Canadian soccer to win more than anybody. All I’ll am asking for is for two of them to stay for one more day.”