The Toronto Star has an interesting story about the difficulties Toronto FC faces as a Canadian team in MLS. Following the news that TFC keeper Greg Sutton had not sufficiently recovered from a concussion sustained during last month's Gold Cup, Coach Mo Johnston vetted his frustration to the Star about how he can't find a stand-in as easily as an American MLS team could.
Why? Because even though there are scores of goalkeepers waiting for their chance to make it in MLS, TFC is limited to a pool of Canadians. That's right, for Toronto, Americans are internationals, and MLS rules state that each team can only have four internationals over the age of 25; the rest either have to hold a green card or be developmental players under 25.
These rules were instated during the league's inception to keep teams from loading up on expensive English, European or South American players. MLS, after all, did not want to suffer the same fate as the North American Soccer League. Johnston says the rule is short-sited, "a handicap." "It's ridiculous that we have to give up one of our senior internationals in order to sign an American keeper," he told the Star. MLS would argue that Johnston has access to a vast pool of Canadian talent that American teams do not. Johnston reply: "With all due respect, the players available under that rule are not on the level that you would want."