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MLS, Canadian Championship, or Both?

Fan discontent arises over squad rotation during busy schedule.

CONCACAF Champions League Final - 2nd Leg - Club America v Montreal Impact
29 April 2015 - Montreal Impact and Club America take to the field for the Champions League Final 2nd leg, at a packed Stade Olympique.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Looking at the various fan forums yesterday, there’s a growing discontent and frustration over the Impact’s declining MLS form.

Many were left perplexed at team selection going into Saturday evening’s game in Chicago.

Disgruntlement reached a peak following the 2-3 defeat. Said fan, Martin Roy, “We battle for playoffs and we had a solid chance on Saturday to get those 3 pts and take Fire out of the race. And at the same time to chase for 4th or even 3rd spot [in the Eastern standings].”

“I don’t give a damn about CPL if it means we will have a B squad in MLS.”

It’s that last point which has me wondering. Some others clearly agree with Martin in respect of the importance of the two competitions and which should be prioritized.

He argues, correctly, that it is MLS that enables Montreal Impact to bring the likes of Piatti, Bojan and Drogba to this city’s soccer public, not the Canadian Championship.

Conversely however, as things stand, the Canadian Championship is the only vehicle that can transport the Impact onto the continental stage and possibly beyond (IMFC was 90 minutes away from the FIFA Club World Cup in 2015). As things stand, only US clubs can qualify for the international tournament from MLS league placings.

There’s obviously glory attached to both success routes. An MLS Cup win would, of course, be out of this world, however arguably even greater respect on the global stage is earned by appearing in the World tournament. Playing in the CONCACAF Champions League, the passageway to get there, also brings the best out in players, and fans.

Now that the Canadian Champion club no longer has to negotiate a group qualifying stage, the knock-out games are all big occasions. It adds spice to the bread and butter of MLS, which I would never advocate treating less importantly.

FBL-CONCACAF-ALAJUELENSE-IMPACT OF MONTREAL
Alejandro Morera Soto Stadium, Alajuela - Andres Romero (15) scores against Alajuelense in the CONCACAF Champions League semi-final 2nd leg in 2015
Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images

And although I’m not sure there was before, there needs to be a clear mandate on the part of the club. Personally I would expect that mandate to declare the season’s target as two-fold; making the post-season play-offs and at least reaching the final of the Canadian Championship.

For this writer, it’s too long since the Impact played in international competition. It’s also too long since they secured post-season soccer, so surely the way to go must always be to attack both targets full-on and adapt the squad to suit success on each platform.

It’s not like MLS clubs play a ridiculous amount of games. 34 regular season, and if IMFC goes all the way in the Canadian Championship this year, that would rise to 40. It’s not much in comparison to what goes on in Europe. Eight further matches for experiencing a run to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League, takes that to 48, still way short of Europe’s top clubs.

Tottenham, who lost in the final of the UEFA Champions League last season played a total of 58 competitive matches, and that does not include 6 pre-season friendlies, three of which were high profile match-ups in North America. The only caveat to be added is that European clubs have larger squads.

What importance do IMFC fans place on winning the Canadian Championship? Celebrating at BC Place in 2013, captain Patrice Bernier hoists the Voyageurs’ Cup.

But what do other Impact fans think? Is MLS more important than Canadian Championship? The crowd attendances would suggest this is strongly the case, or is it simply because the opposition in Canadian Championship games is lower than MLS standard and thus Impact is expected to win, that fans turn-out only in low numbers?

Or do Impact fans not actually value the national championship or covet that lone Canadian place up for grabs on the international stage through the Champions League each season

Perhaps you see the CONCACAF Champions’ League only as an unimportant distraction?

Please let your thoughts be known in our poll.

Poll

If IMFC was in all three competitions, how should they prioritise?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    MLS only
    (3 votes)
  • 9%
    Champions League only
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Canadian Championship only
    (0 votes)
  • 18%
    MLS & Champions League equal top priority.
    (6 votes)
  • 15%
    MLS & Canadian Championship equal top priority.
    (5 votes)
  • 15%
    Champions League and Canadian Championship equal top priority.
    (5 votes)
  • 31%
    All three competitions, equal priority.
    (10 votes)
32 votes total Vote Now