When we look at the numbers and the statistics surrounding the coronavirus crisis, it seems pretty clear that if there is one country between Canada and the United States that is going to come out of it faster than the other, it might be Canada.
It is therefore not impossible that the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Canadian Premier League (CPL) will be able to continue their season this summer. Even if the borders are closed, foreign professional players could obtain special permission to return to the country – they would of course be tested and placed in isolation beforehand – and activities could then resume. But this is not the case in MLS.
It is true to say that all is not lost. If things get back on track in three or four months, a shortened fall season would not be out of the question, but then again, we are talking about distant projections.
With the prospect of the Canadian Premier League possibly resuming its activities before MLS, wouldn’t it be interesting for the three Canadian clubs – the Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps – to consider playing in the all-Canadian league this summer?
This is a very complex scenario, but one that deserves some thought. First of all, would the CPL have an interest in helping the three Canadian MLS clubs? We would have to completely redo the circuit schedule that had already been unveiled.
But before proceeding, Soccer Canada would also have to give its approval so that this exceptional situation could be accepted. Not only that, but MLS itself would have to accept it.
The way the Commissioner is talking right now, he doesn’t seem to be ready for this type of compromise, as he always talks about a ‘full season’ for his tour.
Even if MLS eventually resumes operations, will the borders have reopened? Moving teams from Canada to the United States is always likely to be very complicated. If all three Canadian clubs were allowed to play in Canada for the 2020 season alone, MLS would avoid this huge headache. It would clearly be simpler for MLS to get back into business, knowing that none of its American teams would have to cross borders.
What if the three Canadian clubs did not look into this possibility, and by the end of the summer, MLS was back in business, but because of the closed borders, MLS was forced to exclude Canadian clubs from its championship? That would be a loss for all three clubs here. But let’s face it, Garber might not have the last word on this issue if this type of scenario were to occur.
So it would be important for Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver to at least think about this possibility and start working on this contingency plan.
If all goes well, the Canadian championship could also take place, since the Travellers Cup only includes local clubs.
Of course, if the three Canadian MLS clubs were to participate in the CPL championship, specific rules would have to be put on the table to make the competition fair. For example, MLS clubs could be asked to have at least five Canadian players on the field at all times.
This would surely force teams to put a few other local players under contract to fill in the rules, which would not be a bad thing as such.
It would be a temporary solution, and not ideal, but better than nothing.