TORONTO — Major League Soccer rosters draw on 82 countries this season, with Canada furnishing 46 players.
The league says the Canadian contingent is second only to the 350 players from the U.S. Argentina ranked third with 40 players, followed by Brazil (34) and Colombia (25). They are followed by France (20), England (14), Mexico (14), Uruguay (14), Ecuador (13), Germany (13), Ghana (13), Venezuela (12) and Spain (10).
Five Canadian provinces are represented on MLS rosters — Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec — with Ontario having the largest representation with 26 players. B.C. had nine, Quebec eight, Alberta two and Nova Scotia one.
Toronto FC head coach Bob Bradley, whose coaching resume also includes MLS stints with the Chicago Fire, MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls), Chivas USA and Los Angeles FC, said the global numbers show how scouting has expanded and improved in the league.
The use of data and analytics has helped find "players from places where sometimes you don't always get people physically there to see them right away," he added.
"So I think it speaks to the work that's going on in a lot of the clubs to try to look for talent in all different places. That's what goes on around the world so if we're going to keep pushing the league forward, I think that's important."
The average age of players on MLS rosters as of March 10 was 25 years 194 days old. That compares to 26 years 137 days for the NBA, 26 years 288 days for the NFL, 27 years 267 days for the NHL and 29 years 16 days for Major League Baseball, according to MLS.
Looking at players on current active rosters as of March 13, the New York Red Bulls were the youngest MLS team at 22 years 348 days with Nashville SC the oldest at 27 years 151 days.
CF Montreal had the fourth-youngest roster at 24 years 218 days. Vancouver was seventh-youngest (25 years four days) and Toronto FC 10th-youngest (25 years 184 days).
The 82 countries represented in MLS mark a 37 per cent increase from the 60 countries in 2010, with the league billing itself as "the most globally diverse" player pool among North American men’s pro sports leagues. The next closest men's league in North America is the NBA (45 countries represented), according to MLS.
Based on players who have appeared in games this season, MLS says, the North American league has the third-youngest player pool (26 years 150 days) among top men’s soccer leagues, behind only France's Ligue 1 (25 years 227 days) and Germany's Bundesliga (26 years 29 days).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2022
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press