Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Good News For Canadian Soccer Fans!!

This probably shouldn't come as a hug surprise to anyone who's been paying attention, but Vancouver has been approved for an MLS franchise, and about time too.

The Vancouver region has always been one of Canada's bastions of soccer, and the Whitecaps (or '86ers, as they were from 1986-2001) have been at the forefront of that for about the past 35 years. Originating in the old NASL, the Whitecaps won the League Championship in 1979 (in the semifinals that year, they knocked off a New York Cosmos team that featured Giorgio Chinaglia and Franz Beckenbauer). The NASL team featured a healthy selection of Canadian internationals alongside foreign talent like Bruce Grobelaar and Peter Beardsley (below, in white), both of whom would go on to star for the superp Liverpool teams of the 1980s.

After the death of the NASl in the mid-80s, the '86ers were refounded in the Canadian Soccer League, and promptly won championships in four of the seven years of the CSL's existence. Since then, after a brief sojourn in the American Professional Soccer League, the Vancouver franchise has operated in the A-League, essentially North America's second division, and have been champions there in two of the last three seasons. They will continue to play in the A-League until the MLS team begins operations in 2011.

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