Will 2010 be a new refreshing year or the bad sequel to 2001?? Okay bad movie joke, but I hope you get the point! As we turned the calendar on the decade I find myself pondering what will be in the year ahead for Canadian Soccer fans. We all know the soccer year never really ends…even this winter season we’ve had plenty to talk about on the Major League Soccer front and the national programs. We can look forward to grass at BMO Field and the positives that will bring to the club in 2010. More firepower for Mo Johnston to lure players to the city…a former MLS Coach of the Year in Preki to have a plan on the pitch and build a side that will hope to see post season play for the first time. I would like to see the club not only take home the Canadian Championship, like they did in 2009 in dramatic fashion, (if there is one this year as the whole NASL/USL situation is still developing) but take it a few steps further as qualifying for the FIFA Club World Cup is not out the question. It was impressive to see a small side like Atlante of Mexico take the brief lead against eventual Champions Barcelona.
The Whitecaps continue to grow their brand ahead of making the jump to MLS, while the Montreal Impact continue talks with MLS and the provincial government to pave the way for expansion to La Belle Province and with the uncertainty of USL and NASL I wish we could fast-track Vancouver, Portland and even Montreal to MLS for the 2010 season. The rivalries in the Pacific north-west will bring soccer back to the front pages to areas that have never lost their love for the game and I’m sure the people of Vancouver probably can’t wait for the opportunity to revisit the 100,000 people on Robson Street after the Whitecaps won the Soccer Bowl.
I am hearing a lot from both sides of Major League Soccer and the Player’s Union about the current negotiation of the CBA. As of right now the two sides seem to be very far apart of coming to a new deal. I do believe the players should get more, the salary cap should go up by a considerable amount, but I don’t think the players or the league can use a lockout or strike as leverage in the talks. The league is still too young to survive something like that. MLS has to kick off this season so it will be very interesting to see what unfolds as the countdown to February 1st is well underway. More soccer specific stadiums in the league is a great step forward. We no longer have to watch games being played on NFL lines at Giants Stadium. How bad was that?
There will no doubt be some great soccer this summer. Let’s not forget the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. If I had to pick two match-ups in the group stage I cannot wait for, well they are pretty much no-brainers. England v. USA and Portugal v. Brazil. USA surprised many in the Confederations Cup and no doubt is proof of how Major League Soccer has helped to develop American soccer players and this could be the year the USA better their success from the 2002 World Cup.
As the Canadian National men’s team made some changes towards the end of the year there were also promises we have heard before, but this time I hope they actually come to fruition. Stephen Hart was finally given the CSA’s blessing and hired as the National Team Head Coach. The CSA also said it would like to see matches played on all international dates. That would be a first. Just being able to afford to gather the side for a handful of internationals in a year is a challenge for the Canadian Soccer Association, but the optimism that Peter Montopoli brings to the organization is refreshing. I do hope he is successful in finding some deep pockets in the private sector to help reach the country’s ultimate goal. The 2010 year begins on January 31st as the national team plays Jamaica in a friendly in Kingston, Jamaica….Richardson Stadium in Kingston, Ontario will no doubt be snow covered and very cold!
Finally, I’m still waiting for February 23rd. What’s that you ask? Well if you didn’t have a chance to see it in the theatre or the show stealer at the Toronto International Film Festival it’s the North American DVD release date for “The Damned United.”
Cheers and all the best in 2010.
Lee Godfrey brings an extensive amount of soccer broadcast experience to GolTV where he is the host of the station’s original Canadian news program Extra Time.