It’s the ying-yang of Canadian soccer – the same year one team wins the A-League championship, another examines its future and moves down to the Premier Development League.
The Vancouver Whitecaps – in name the storied franchise of the NASL days – won its first A-League title with a 3-0 win against Rochester – in Rochester – on September 30, 2006.
Canadian national Jeff Clarke was the MVP of the game.
Rochester is no pushover. It’s arguable that Rochester NY could support an MLS team. They’ve had, over the last couple of years, one of the most competitive A-League teams out there. And a couple of years ago they even won the US equivalent of the F.A. Cup – beating MLS teams along the way.
They had a nice “derby” going with Toronto Lynx for a while. Of all the A-League teams, they were the only ones that brought their own fans to the game. I remember sitting in Varsity stadium amazed at a) how many people in safari hats came all the way from Rochester to see their team lose and thought b) well I guess you take any chance you can to get out of Rochester.
But that Lynx/Rhino derby is going to be no more.
The Toronto Lynx announced in early October that they’re moving their senior men’s team down to the Premier Development League.
This move has everything to do with the coming of the MLS. TheLynx had their work cut out for them.
The first problem was location. After they moved from UofT’s Varsity Stadium they moved around from the York University field to Centennial Stadium. If you’ve tried to find Centennial from the 401, 427, or anywhere and found it I’d like to hear from you. Conveniently located that stadium is not. When they were downtown there was easy access.
The second problem was the Toronto media didn’t really pay any attention to them. They had this great play-off run in the fall of 2000 that was barely covered in the dailies. (The Lynx can thank a Dwayne DeRosario goal for ruining that playoff dream.)
The team worked and volunteered in the community, but from a media stand-point it was all very low profile.
The third problem was maintaining the on-field product. USL A-League was (now that the MLS is here we can say was) the highest level of soccer that was played in Canada. Yet the lure for better players to give it a go abroad called. That meant while players like Tottenham’s Paul Stalteri once played for the team, there wasn’t enough of a future there for him to stay. (Though if given the chance to play in White Hart Lane, I’m sure I’d choose that over Centennial.)
I look for players like Rob Aristodemo and Dave Diplacido to show up playing soccer somewhere good next year. I’m hoping it’s the MLS.
And congrats to the Whitecaps. I’m sure the Toronto FC will be calling for players.