FC Edmonton head coach Jeff Paulus was pulling for his rival in the Canadian Championship on Wednesday.
With their run to the semifinal, which included knocking off the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS, Cavalry FC of Calgary proved the level of play is not far off between the two leagues.
While MLS is still the pinnacle of North American professional soccer, Cavalry proved on a given day a Canadian Premier League side can more than hold its own against bigger, better funded clubs, losing 1-0 to the Montreal Impact on Wednesday in the second leg of the home-and-home series.
“I thought they gave themselves a chance (Wednesday) night because they’re so disciplined and they do the right things all the time,” Paulus said. “Players work so hard for (head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.) and for each other and so it was encouraging. They could have won that game if a couple of set pieces gone their way, we could be having a different conversation about the CPL.”
As a first-year league, the CPL was created to give Canadian talent a chance to play professionally. While the MLS does feature three Canadian teams in Toronto FC, the Whitecaps and Impact, it is still a predominantly American league. Canadians are considered foreign players to MLS teams outside of Canada.
“If you double our salary cap and give us more time with the players that we’ve had we can be up there with them,” Paulus said. “Tommy made a great comment after the game; ‘I’ve had 100 days with my players, give me 100 more.’ It’s valid. We’re so new, I think this does show a couple of things.
“We’re not as deep as the MLS teams, most of those teams are 30 players deep and we don’t have that luxury. But I think the one takeaway though, for the Canadian footballing fan is that our Canadian kids can play.”
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest
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