In today’s post, we decided to explain how football (soccer) works in North America. As you probably know, it is very different from football in Europe. For example, there is no promotion/relegation system. This means that a team always plays in the same league (or level) even it finished 1st or last in the previous season. In North America, there are different levels, beginning with the Major League Soccer (MLS, Division I). MLS currently has 19 teams, 16 from the USA and 3 from Canada. Lower leagues also exist, like the North American Soccer League (NASL, Division II), United Soccer League Professional Division (USL-pro, Division III) and also some university leagues, development and semi-professionals leagues.
It’s also worth noting that the MLS is a single-entity structure and is the official owner of all of the clubs. Each team has an investor-operator, like Joey Saputo in Montreal. So, the league negotiates and holds players contracts (players cannot sign individually with a team). There is also a salary cap for the teams (3.1 millions $ in 2014) but there are particular status (designated players) that do not count within the salary cap (ex: Thierry Henry (NY), Marco Di Vaio (MTL)).
The Montreal Impact Football Club is active in MLS, in the MLS Reserve league (different MLS teams participate in this « B » or second Championship) and in other level like the Semi-pro (academy club of IMFC) and younger. In Montreal, the club is aiming for a similar type of development and organization as the one in Europe (with development team recruiting kids at 8 years old).
Champions League? Yes there is a Champions League. It’s the CONCACAF Cup where, every year, one Canadian competes against 23 other teams coming from the USA, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
In Canada, there is another cup: the Voyageurs Cup that amounts to a Canadian Championship.
It currently involves 5 teams, 3 from the MLS (Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal) and 2 teams from the NASL (Edmonton and Ottawa). The winning team qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions League.
Rivalry? That will be the topic of a future post! :D