Changes are coming to Major League Soccer's Canadian content rule.
Last November, MLS commissioner Don Garber revealed he was involved in talks with the Canadian Soccer Association, the sport's governing body in Canada, about making changes to the league's Canadian quota.
MLS has been pretty mum on the subject in the interim, but it appears as though a formal announcement is forthcoming from the league.
An MLS official confirmed in an email to CBCSports.ca that "a change is likely, but a final decision has not been made regarding international/domestic player limits for MLS clubs based in Canada."
The official went on to write that, "we do expect to announce those in the near future."
During the 2010 MLS season, Toronto FC was required to have at least eight Canadian players on its roster.
Current league rules also stipulate that U.S.-based MLS teams who wish to employ a Canadian player must use one of their international player slots in order to do so. As each team is only allotted eight international slots (slots can be traded to acquire more), it puts a restriction on the number of jobs open to Canadian players in MLS.
Any changes to the Canadian quota and international player limits would not only affect TFC, but also the Vancouver Whitecaps, who will enter MLS this year, and the Montreal Impact, slated to join in 2012 as the league's third Canadian team.
Depth of talent pool questioned
Opponents of the quota say the Canadian player pool isn't deep enough to sustain it, especially with two more teams from Canada on the way. MLS is trying to balance that with the concerns of the CSA, which wants to provide as many opportunities as it can for Canadian players.
CBC Sports soccer commentator Jason de Vos, a former captain of Canada's national team, doesn't think the current Canadian quota helps Canadian players who would otherwise be overlooked.
"That argument may have some merit, and while there may be some exceptions, I do not believe that there is an abundance of professional-calibre players in Canada who have slipped through the cracks," de Vos wrote in a recent blog for CBCSports.ca.
Toronto FC defender Nana Attakora offers a differing view.
At 21 years old, Attakora has blossomed into one of Canadian soccer's brightest prospects since making his professional debut as a member of TFC in 2008, a year after he first signed with the club. The Toronto native believes the Canadian quota has opened doors for young Canadian players that would otherwise not be given an opportunity — himself included.
"100 per cent, I benefited from it. No doubt about it," Attakora told CBCSports.ca.
Attakora added: "Looking back, I wasn't a major player a few years ago. If I was being honest with myself, I probably was only there to make up the Canadian numbers. Because of that, I was able to train with the team and develop, and get to where I am today."