Postseason Potential of the Canadian MLS ClubsDespite strong attempts, Vancouver and Montreal are likely to join Toronto on the outside looking in come November
by Henrik Lonne | Thursday, September 27, 2012
So, the Major League Soccer regular season is a few rounds away from being over and it’s a good time to look at how Canadian MLS teams have performed and which of them may make a run for the playoffs.
Aren’t they the never-ending story?
This has been yet another agonizing season for TFC supporters as the team has performed poorly during most of the season. And with the change in the CONCACAF Champions League format, which handicapped Toronto’s chances of success outside of MLS, the Voyagers Cup has been pretty much the only positive thing to take away from this season.
By the time Winter was fired, the playoffs were already a pipe dream and I think fans might be hesitant to make a wager on when Toronto will finally reach the postseason. It could be awhile.
Next season, Toronto will benefit from having the 1st pick in the MLS SuperDraft and being number 1 in the allocation order. This will allow Toronto to bring in two players who should have the quality to improve the team. Given the team’s history though, who knows if this will be enough next season for them to get into the postseason.
Joey Saputo and his Montreal team have made quite the impact in the team’s MLS debut.
While the playoffs are probably too far out of reach, this is probably the best debut season for a Canadian team in MLS history.
Montreal has performed a lot better than Vancouver in its debut season in spite of Vancouver being in the same situation last season. The Impact have gotten very good results at home, but they will need to improve their performances on the road to take the next step forward.
And while the experience from the team’s inaugural MLS season will be valuable, it will be interesting to see if the older players like Bernardo Corradi, Marco Di Vaio, Matteo Ferrari, Patrice Bernier and Alessandro Nesta will have lost a step or whether they will be able to still contribute to the team.
The owner Saputo has, however, shown a willingness to spend. So with the right signings in the offseason, Montreal could very easily find itself in the playoffs come next fall.
During the spring, many saw the Vancouver Whitecaps as a candidate not only for the postseason, but also as a dark horse for the MLS Cup.
Then, Martin Rennie started to disassemble the team.
Rennie shipped away many of the players that had been part of the successful sophomore season start. The team then added old British players, and changed the way the team played. And as it goes, positive results started to fade.
The Whitecaps are currently just ahead of FC Dallas for that final playoff spot. I would be more inclined to bet on FC Dallas making the playoffs than Vancouver, mostly because Dallas has the experience.
The spot is still the Impact’s to lose, and it’s likely they will lose it.
If Vancouver does make the playoffs, it will be a historic and great moment for Canadian soccer as the first team makes it to the post-season.
Still, it will be interesting to see if the Scottish makeover of the team will be successful in the 2013 season and beyond, or if the poor results from the second half of this season will continue.
Things can change quickly in MLS. Teams like Sporting KC and Columbus have shown that with patience, savvy for trades and drafting, as well as developing their playing styles. Teams can go from pretender to contender in a few seasons.
But if I were to make a prediction of the first Canadian team to lift the MLS Cup, my choice would be Montreal.
The team has an ambitious owner, the ability to attract players like Ferrari, Nelson Rivas and Nesta at surprisingly low salaries, a staff with knowledge of MLS, and a successful first season to build upon.
If they play their cards right, I would not be surprised to see them lift la Coupe de la MLS within a few years.