American Professional Soccer (APS) has reached an agreement to forge a working relationship with the Canadian Soccer League (CSL). The historic agreement provides many opportunities for growth and development on both sides of the border, allowing the beautiful game to prosper in a suitable environment.
The desire to launch APS was driven by the fact that the U.S. needs to develop a deeper professional soccer system to accommodate the increasing number of young, talented players. The lack of an adequate professional soccer structure relative to the number of players throughout the U.S. was expressed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2011. Blatter made similar comments when visiting Canada in 2001. This working relationship solves this dilemma, providing additional opportunities for players to develop in a professional environment en route to higher leagues in North America and beyond.
Agreement was reached at a meeting in Toronto for the CSL and APS to strike a close working relationship in the areas of competition and business.
“We can derive considerable benefit by working closely with APS, a new league which has aspirations and a vision for soccer on this continent similar to that of our league,” said CSL chairman Vincent Ursini in making the announcement.
Matthew Driver, APS Chief Executive Officer and Michael Wheeler, legal counsel for APS, attended the Toronto meeting, which included owners of CSL teams. Talks were wide-ranging and covered the extent to which both leagues can enter into an arrangement for games to be played both sides of the border. A cross-border women’s semi-professional league and youth academy competitions will also be explored. Marketing ideas, with an emphasis placed on member teams being profitable, were also discussed.
“We look forward to working with the Canadian Soccer League to develop synergies that will help both of our leagues to improve performance on and off the field,” said Driver. The Glasgow, Scotland native has a decorated coaching career, one that includes time as the First Assistant Coach at the New England Revolution (MLS) and Technical Director for the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). Driver also touts years of experience in corporate business, sports marketing, and sports team ownership and management.
Driver credits World Soccer Management owner John Horvath with initiating the meetings and helping bring this agreement to fruition.
APS plans to kickoff late in 2014 with teams in the Northeastern United States. The league has carefully planned for strategic growth in other parts of the U.S. in 2015 and beyond, creating a national footprint for player development and sustainability. The league recently accepted its ninth team with plans to cap the number of teams at 12 for the 2014 season.
The CSL, Canada’s professional soccer league, is a direct member of the Canada Soccer Association. The 2013 season saw the CSL operating a First Division of 12 teams and a Second Division of 9 reserve teams. The First Division in 2013 consists of Astros Vasas FC, Brampton City Utd., Burlington SC, Kingston FC, London City, Niagara United, SC Waterloo, Serbian White Eagles, St. Catharines Roma Wolves, Toronto Croatia, Windsor Stars, and York Region Shooters. Reserve teams in the CSL Second Division include Brampton City Utd B, Kingston FC B, London City B, Niagara United B, SC Waterloo B, Serbian White Eagles B, St. Catharines Roma Wolves B, Toronto Croatia B and York Region Shooters B. The CSL season runs from the beginning of May until the end of October.