Canadian Soccer League (CSL) Press Conference held Tuesday May 13, 2008 at 12:00pm at BMO Field in the Rogers Club VIP Room.

MC Stan Adamson
Front table Dick Howard, John Knox, Cary Kaplan (Commissioner of CSL)

Adamson called the meeting to order at 12:17pm. There were six video cameras recording the proceedings for various outlets.

Stan Adamson said a member of the media had contacted him when he received the press conference invite and asked him if there were any ‘big’ announcements. Stan said there are no big announcements but a lot of little ones. This media caller did not know soccer when he confessed that he thought the name Diego Maradona sounded familiar. (Part of a joke as the Astros have his namesake nephew on their roster). He’d been a mainstream coverage person for hockey and baseball for years but had only been brought to know soccer by the hype in this city for Toronto FC. The CSL and all of soccer are benefiting from the success of TFC. There are people in the media are just now asking ‘what’s going on here?’

Cary Kaplan says there has been some good progress made in the last few months.

1.. Coaches—the coaching group at the league level (all 11 of them) are the best in Canada. About half are new. The coaching will be tremendous. He and later Stan Adamson would expand on who are the coaches.

National Division:
Brampton Lions FC—Armando Costa… (coached Al-Saadi Gahdaffi son of the Libyan leader)
London City—Eddie Edgar (father of current Newcastle UK and Cdn player David Edgar)
North York Astros—Rafael Carbajal
St Catharines Wolves—James McGilivary (CSL coach of the year 2007)
TFC Academy—Jason Bent (former Cdn national team player)
Trois-Rivieres Attak—Marc Dos Santos
Windsor Border Stars—Pat Hilton

International Division
Italia Shooters—Carmine Isacco (was a goalkeeping coach with Toronto FC last year)
Portugal FC—Jose Testas
Serbian White Eagles—Milan Cancarevic
Toronto Croatia—Miroslav Buljan (coming over from Croatia)

All eleven of them have UEFA certificates and plus various Canadian National A or B certificates and Ontario and Quebec Provincial, USSF and CONMEBOL qualifications.

2...Respect and Fair Play Campaign—this is a concern from FIFA. “In the opinion of the referee” is how soccer is supposed to work. The league has well trained officials and players and team officials should accept the decisions of the referees. Last year there were fines and suspensions some of which still carry over to this year.
The Fair Play trophy will be awarded like last year for the team with the fewest Red and Yellow cards AND (this year) the conduct of team officials. The will to win is important but Fair Play and respect for the referee is important too.

3... Toronto FC Academy will play in the CSL this year. A six team Reserve Division (Italia Shooters, North York Astros, Portugal FC, Serbian White Eagles, Toronto Croatia and TFC Academy) will play as well. Montreal Impact’s reserve team is the Trois-Rivieres Attak.

Kaplan said the league is going west! In 2009 a Western Division with teams in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Alberta is being aggressively pursued right now. Ontario and Quebec are really strong. What Toronto FC has done has caused a trickle-down effect increasing interest all across the country. Enquiries from Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg but he’s looking for strong ownership groups.

He also announced that Rogers Television will be doing a CSL Game of the Week every Friday night from June to October and a press release will follow in the next few days about that. (Oh-oh…I have Star*Choice so I better make some friends who can tape me the games).

Brock Robinson explained the schedule. There’s an expanded schedule this year because of 11 teams. Lamport Stadium now has a new surface and will be the home of both Portugal FC (in the Portuguese neighbourhoods of Toronto) and Toronto FC Academy (ten minute walk from BMO Field). A park in Maple with new field turf will be the new home of Italia Shooters. Most of the games will be on the weekends as a means of increasing attendance. The finals will be held the weekend of October 25th and 26th.

Stan Adamson introduced some of the guests in the crowd today like Guy Bradbury and Bruce Henderson both from the OSA, and Dave Benning from the CSA (used to be in the CPSL in the days of Glen Shields Sun Devils), and the CSA coach Ray Clark who had just coached the Canadian U20 team to a 1-1 tie on Sunday at this BMO Field against the current world U20 champions, Argentina.

Dick Howard got up and spoke about the Fair Play Campaign. He said let’s award teams that play the game right. It involves respect to players (both to the opposing team and their own teammates!) and officials. This is really raising the bar and applauds the CSL for their initiative.

He thanked U20s coach Ray Clark. He says he often asked as a FIFA official about the state of Canadian soccer and they look at the results and are genuinely interested in Canada for the MLS and the CSL. The CSL is making an impression by raising the standards. The level of coaching has really picked up. It’s no longer good enough for the friend of the owner to pull on a tracksuit that says ‘coach’ and coach the team. All their coaches have licenses. Will the coaches’ contacts mean there may be more international exhibitions? The players need the quality coaching.

John Knox said the best remarks of what he had to say had already been said by the others but commented on the TFC Academy and their TFC Academy Reserves team. It will be great for player development. He looked forward to Tony Comacho being named head of officials (as the others had earlier) and was all for the Fair Play program. He wished good luck to all the teams.

Stan Adamson summarized and ended the meeting but feel free to ask any questions one on one. Now is my chance….

I asked Cary Kaplan (“only one question?” he joked with me) about the cancellation of the Open Canada Cup. With Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Montreal Impact competing for a CONCACAF spot what did that have to do with this Cup especially with it a way to bring a team all the way from British Columbia (Columbus Clansman) like last year and help publish the league? He’d like the CSL to be a fourth team in the competition. Would that not be until next year? He said that interest dried up among the amateur teams as soon as the CONCACAF qualification was announced even through the league had added $10,000 to the pot for the amateur team that advanced the farthest. The Open Canada Cup was started by the league because the CSA wasn’t doing anything about crowning a national champion. Kaplan says they haven’t cancelled the Cup but just won’t hold it this year.

Kaplan said the Toronto FC Academy results WILL be counted in the standings…earlier they weren’t so sure. They will play a full schedule.

One year ago right here we were looking forward to “African Icons” and “Quebec City FC” joining the league this year although that wasn’t mentioned in all the excitement of the TFC Academy signing up. They are both still tentative. The owner of the Icons is in Africa right now shopping for players and Quebec asked for one more year. There’s one more team, the dormant Brampton Stallions is being shopped around by the owner for relocation after he sells. Kitchener? I asked. Kaplan says the league would like to have a team in Hamilton.

Phil Ionadi is coach of Brampton Lions and he said the team would be more like last years Metro Lions although there will be local players as well as not all last years players wanted to travel from the east end of Toronto. The team will have the same owner from last year’s Lions team.

Jason Bent is coach of the TFC Academy. He answered that the team will be made up of teenage players that do go to school. Most are not university players but high schoolers that were chosen from the tryouts. The team will be all amateur and no chance of any pros on the team. (My joke--like Jeff Cunningham slumming it saying he doesn’t get enough playing time). The team will play the entire schedule and have enough players for the CSL Reserves division too. They’ll be around in October too if they make the playoffs.

Rocket Robin

CSL Executive Director Stan Adamson at the podium with the OSA's John Knox, CSL Commissioner Cary Kaplan, and FIFA official Dick Howard at the head table.

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