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Youth Emerging

Canadian Players Starting to Make their Mark

It was the 60th minute. The Vancouver Whitecaps were looking the weaker side in a 0-0 deadlock with the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy. The commentator pondered who clad in white would step up for the Canadian side. 

Few could have predicted it would have been a 20-year-old kid from Niagara Falls, Ontario who would lead the 'Caps to victory.

Russell Teibert, a product of Vancouver's own academy, scored his first two MLS goals in the 63rd and 76th minutes to give the Canadian side the victory. However, it hasn't been an easy road for the young Canadian. Until this season, he has struggled to establish himself in the first team. In many ways his experience mirrors that of this country's efforts to develop soccer talent, with many promising signs turning out to be false dawns.

However, if Teibert is to be a Canadian soccer star, people will likely refer to this moment as a turning point for his career. In many ways it may also signify a turning point for Canada's development of young soccer talent, and therefore for Canadian soccer as a whole. 

It appears the dawn may be finally coming for Canadian soccer. Several Canadian MLS Home Grown players like Teibert are starting to emerge as contributing members for their respective clubs. At Toronto FC, Ashtone Morgan and Doneil Henry have made significant contributions, though recently signed Jonathan Osorio with skill and ability to avoid the pressure may be the brightest star among them. (Witness his goal against Thierry Henry's Red Bulls) In La Belle Provence, Karl Ouimette and Maxim Tissot have both had meaningful minutes for the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Impact. The three Canadian MLS teams have invested a considerable amount in their academies and it seems like they are starting to paying dividends.

Talent is emerging from the Keystone Province as well. Dylan Carreiro, a former FC Northwest and World Soccer Academy player has established is one of London's Queens Park Rangers most promising young talents. Marco Bustos, another former FC Northwest player, is training in the Whitecaps Residency Program. Finally, don't forget about WSA's own Ali Musse, who is a member of the Canada U17 national team, and Moses Danto, who last year was named USL PDL Player of the Week.

Canada still has a long way to go in its development. At the U20 World Cup qualifiers, Canada was overpowered by a US team filled with MLS players such as Luis Gil and Jose Villareal. MLS academies can't shoulder all of the development burden; other clubs and academies need to contribute as well. Better coaching and development is needed at all levels. If Canada is to produce a regular pipeline of talented players everybody will need to step up.

However, the future looks brighter for Canadian soccer than it possibly ever has. FC Edmonton looks to be finally establishing itself and a new Ottawa NASL team should help player development as well. More development doesn't just mean more talent, it also means more competition and therefore less complacency, something that has been an issue for some early academy products.

And of course more moments like we had this Saturday. This is just the beginning.