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MLS, Canadian Soccer Association announce youth development taskforce

Major League Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association announced on Wednesday the creation of a joint taskforce to focus on the advancement of youth development in Canada and an expansion of the Generation adidas program to Canada.

Additionally, the league announced that it has modified its existing parameters that determine the international status of Canadian players on both US- and Canadian based clubs.

The joint taskforce will consist of individuals from the CSA, MLS league office and Canada’s three MLS clubs – Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps – and will work to develop and implement initiatives to advance the Canadian youth game in the areas of academy environment, coaching, competition and individualized player development.

The new Generation adidas Canada program will mirror the existing Generation adidas program, through which MLS annually signs a handful of top collegiate underclassmen and youth national team players and places them in the SuperDraft each January. Generation adidas Canada will see MLS and the CSA work together to identify top Canadian talent and sign them to GA contracts, with the signed players made available to all MLS clubs through the SuperDraft.

The new roster classification parameters will allow qualifying Canadian players to count as domestic players on the rosters of US-based MLS clubs.

Until now, Canadian players have counted as international players for US-based MLS clubs while American players have counted as domestic players on Canadian MLS teams. Each MLS club, regardless of their location, is given eight international spots per year, with those spots tradable so that some clubs may have more than eight international players on their roster while others may have fewer.

Under the new rules announced on Wednesday, Canadian players that qualify as a Homegrown Player as a member of an MLS club academy or that have met similar requirements as a member of a Canadian Approved Youth Club will count as a domestic player for all MLS clubs, provided that:

  • The player became a member of an MLS club academy or Canadian Approved Youth Club in the year prior to the year in which he turns 16;

AND

  • The player signs his first professional contract with MLS or an MLS USL affiliate club.

MLS and the CSA will work together to identify qualifying Canadian Approved Youth Clubs that meet specific standards in relation to competition, environment and coaching. These clubs, which will be announced by MLS at a later date, may or may not be affiliated with an MLS team.

The league announced that the updated parameters will go into effect in 2017. Current and future MLS players will be affected in that:

  • Any current MLS player who was a member of an MLS club academy in the year prior to the year in which they turned 16 will be considered a domestic player on MLS rosters in both the US and Canada beginning in 2017. 
  • Any amateur player who was a member of an MLS Academy or Canadian Approved Youth Club in the year prior to the year in which he turned 16, will be considered a domestic player upon signing his first professional contract with an MLS club or and MLS club’s USL affiliate.