A black night at BMO

A pair of fans at the Canada/Costa Rica friendly last night show their displeasure with the...

A pair of fans at the Canada/Costa Rica friendly last night show their displeasure with the Canadian Soccer Association. (Sun Media/Dave Thomas)

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

Canada's national soccer team held Costa Rica to a 1-1 draw last night in a friendly at BMO Field, but the result was secondary to the growing battle over control of the sport's future in this country.

The game, played before a paltry crowd of 9,325, many of whom were glad in black shirts demanding drastic changes in the Canadian Soccer Association's hierarchy, saw Costa Rican forward Victor Nunez score in the 48th minute, followed six minutes later by a goal off the foot of Canada's Dwayne De Rosario.

But it was the in-fighting among CSA executives --which led to the resignation of president Colin Linford last month -- that is causing all parts of the game to suffer.

That's the view of Dino Rossi, co-founder of the Canadian Soccer Supporters United, who organized last night's black shirt protest.

The CSA is without a president (Linford) or a CEO (Fred Nykamp, was hired this past spring, but has not been given the go-ahead to start his job).

"We feel strongly that we must send a message to the CSA that the status quo is no longer acceptable," Rossi said in a statement.

"If they are so blind that they can't see that change is needed, especially changes to the way that elite player development is organized and prioritized, then Canadian soccer will likely be doomed to mediocrity for the foreseeable future."

Canada is ranked 53rd in the world.

Defender Jim Brennan, who has won 43 caps for Canada, agreed that something has to be done to make it easier for soccer to grow here.

He said that at the very least, control of the country's elite youth soccer programs should be taken out of the hands of the CSA.

"It should be up to the clubs (like Toronto FC) to look after players, not the Canadian Soccer Association," Brennan said. "At the moment things are not going right for (the CSA) and I think TFC, once they get their academy, they can be hands on with players, working with them everyday."

Brennan pointed to the well-travelled road out of Canada to Europe and elsewhere that kids have to take in order to reach the top levels of the sport. He said the first step in fixing the mess will come when TFC, his Major League Soccer club, launches its soccer academy program.

"That's they way it should be done," Brennan said. "That's they way it's done in very other soccer country."

Brennan hopes that if the MLS adds franchises in Montreal and Vancouver, a national system of such academies can be developed.


Videos

Photos