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Canadian National Team Players Unhappy about Argonauts Move to BMO Field

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Canada has been an afterthought in the entire process, and members of the men's national team aren't surprised.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever Tim Leiweke has been asked about the priority tenant for the newly renovated BMO Field, he has made it clear that this is still Toronto FC's house. In fact he made a ranking list in terms of importance, and Toronto FC finished with all three of the top spots, the CFL's Toronto Argonauts fourth.

There is another tenant that is missing, however, one that has been missing throughout the majority of the discussions: the Canadian National Soccer Team. Whether it was in print, on TV or online few words have been devoted to one of the teams for which BMO Field was originally built.

They don't seem to be in the new stadium's plans either. Their dressing room at BMO Field was removed in favour of the Tunnel Club. Meanwhile, it will be harder than ever to schedule National team games at home, and Canadian manager Benito Floro has mentioned they are looking for other venues for at least one upcoming match.

For the most part, Canadian national team players aren't exactly thrilled about what this will mean for the future of Canada's national soccer stadium.

"It's an odd situation, when you look at most national team stadiums across the world they are specifically just for them," said national team captain Julian De Guzman to Waking the Red.

It's sentiment as much as it is practical: taking away the "soccer specific" title of the national soccer stadium isn't particularly good for the perception of the sport in this country.

The same issues exist on the practical side, however, primarily how the pitch holds up with so many tenants. Patrice Bernier of the Montreal Impact isn't as concerned about the national stadium become multi-purpose as others, but even he thinks the field could be an issue.

"It's never great to have two club teams at the same stadium," he tells Waking the Red, "Just in terms of keeping the quality of the pitch at its best."

Issey Nakajima-Farran, who is currently playing for Terengganu of the Malaysian Super League after spells with Toronto FC and Montreal Impact, agrees. He outlines how important the surface really is in soccer.

"[It] doesn't matter for which league or level," he says. "If it's considered professional football, the field standards have to be taken as seriously as wages for players. Putting in the ground work literally means just that for any successful club or team."

He explains that under Floro Canada likes to play a possession based game, and a good surface really benefits their ability to do that.

Nakajima-Farran is also concerned about the Argonauts moving to BMO Field, but puts it's a lot lower on the list of Canadian soccer priorities.

"I think the stadium is a minor issue," he says. For him it's what's worse for Canadian soccer, "sharing a stadium with an American football team [or] barely having any Canadians in the starting line up in Canadian teams in MLS."

For De Guzman the new tenant is understandable, he can see Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment's point of view as far as the economics go.

"From a business standpoint I guess it's cost effective and it helps generate money for the clubs," he says, but explains that it's very different for hardcore soccer supporter. "For [soccer] fanatics in a way I feel it defeats the idea of having a soccer stadium specifically for soccer."

He and Nakajima-Farran both agree that it is winning big games that will ultimately make them a first priority tenant somewhere, even if it's not at BMO Field. Until then, the national team and its fans just doesn't have enough of a voice.

"Hopefully [we will] have the support one day to have a soccer specific stadium for the national teams," says De Guzman. "At the end of the day it comes down to the results."