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Northern Exposure: Estevez transfer from York9 shows CanPL on radars of top clubs

Major news in the Canada Soccer landscape this week as “The Hex” is no longer, TFC returns to individual training, and another CanPL player is transferred abroad.

CPL: York9 FC at Cavalry FC
York9 FC attacker Emilio Estevez (11) controls the ball against the Cavalry FC during the first half during a Canadian Premier League soccer match
(Belski/USA TODAY)

Disney wants to make some soccer magic

From the magical kingdom that makes all your dreams come true emerges a proposal that would see the entire 2020 MLS season take place at the Disney Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Waking the Red Managing Editor Michael Singh recently reviewed a report coming out of The Washington Post about this proposal including some of the hurdles a plan of this magnitude would need to overcome if it were to be pulled off.

According to anonymous sources players, coaches and staff numbering over 1000 people from all 26 teams would live under quarantine at one of the resorts located near Disney World. So far nobody from the MLS or the MLS Players Association has been willing to comment and The Walt Disney Company has not responded to reporters’ questions about the proposal.

TFC holding individual player workouts

This week Toronto FC begins to hold voluntary individual player workouts at their training grounds. Workouts will be taking place under extremely controlled conditions in adherence with public health guidelines to ensure player safety. TFC is one of a few MLS teams who are now planning to return to some form of training assuming their jurisdiction allows it.

The Vancouver Whitecaps also announced their intentions to hold voluntary individual player workouts at their training facility. No official word yet from the Montreal Impact about when their players will return to training.

No Hex, now what?

The Canadian Men’s National Team and its fans have been waiting with anticipation for word from FIFA about the fate of World Cup Qualifying in the Concacaf region. Changes are coming, but what will they look like? In the current qualifying format Canada was left on the outside of the Hex looking in when the COVID-19 crisis forced the cancellation of all friendlies throughout the spring and summer, possibly longer, thus robbing the team of any chance to make up the necessary ranking points they needed to make it into the Hex.

But if recent comments from Concacaf President and FIFA Vice-president Victor Montagliani are any indication, perhaps there will be a new qualifying path for Les Rouges, one that does not include a Hex. According to Montagliani, “The current World Cup will have to be changed, which means ‘the Hex’ will have to take another form… obviously larger.” This article by Marty Thompson on the Canadian Premier League website lays out some of the possible changes that could be made to the current qualifying format.

Transfer proves CPL is on the radar of top clubs

Toronto-born midfielder Emilio Estevez has become the first Canadian Premier League Player to be transferred to a topflight club in Europe. Dutch side ADO Den Haag who competes in the top tier league picked up Emilio after he made a splash in the inaugural CPL season for York9 FC and internationally for Chinese Taipei, both of which earned him a lot of looks from potentially interested teams.

Estevez becomes the second CPL player to get transferred to Europe. Tristian Borges, last season’s CPL golden boot winner, was transferred from Forge FC to Belgian club Oud-Heverlee Leuven who plays in the second division. Other notable CPL transfers include Joel Waterman who was transferred from Cavalry FC to the Montreal Impact of MLS, and Tyler Attardo who was transferred from Valour FC to Chilean second division club C.D. Arturo Fernández Vial.

The transfer of these four players to bigger leagues in other countries means that the CPL is definitely on the radar of teams throughout the soccer landscape. The CPL is already creating a transfer history giving a clear signal to other leagues that they are open for business. It will be very exciting to watch more Canadian players get a chance to play for teams from around the world as the CPL continues to grow and establish itself.

Expanded Champions League vs. MLS/Liga MX Super League

Will we eventually see the blending together of Mexico’s Liga MX and the United States’ MLS into one giant super league? Or will Concacaf have the last word and dictate that each domestic league remain in its own country while instead expanding the Champions League to satisfy the appetite of fans who want to see more inter-league play? A recent piece in Sports Illustrated frames this scenario as a turf war that is possibly brewing between the confederation and the leagues.

Is there really something to these turf war rumors? Or are they just that, rumors? When asked about this supposed super league Concacaf President Victor Montagliani said, “A lot of those discussions are probably more of a post-2026 [World Cup] discussion. Let’s see what the football world looks like. But I think between now and 2026, you’re going to see more of an expanded version of our Champions League.”

At this time Mr. Montagliani is not supportive of a Liga MX/MLS super league, he would rather see an expanded Concacaf Champions League instead. “We’re actually looking to expand our Champions League to have even more games—more teams from the two major leagues and obviously from Central America and the Caribbean as well. We’re going to have an expanded Champions League, and I think that to be honest with you, in the short term and medium term, [that] will be the vehicle to get those matchups that people are looking at.”