Canada’s Professional League
The Canadian Soccer League (CSL) is long-standing and is the highest level league in Canada. It is a continuation of earlier forerunner leagues, the National Soccer League (NSL), the Canadian National Soccer League (CNSL) and the Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL), going back more than 80 years.
The CSL is third tier soccer, below Major League Soccer (MLS), which has Canadian teams Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps, and the second tier North American Soccer League (NASL), with FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury. The US Pro league also has a presence in Canada with a new Canadian entry from Toronto FC, known as Toronto FC II. FC Montreal is also a member of the US Pro League. MLS, the NASL and the US Pro League are U.S. based.
The CSL offices are located at Mississauga, Ontario on the west side of Toronto, just minutes from Toronto Airport.
The CSL has added two new teams for the 2015 season to operate a First Division of 12 teams and the league structure includes a Second Division of reserve teams offering a traditional support while also playing a developmental role.
The First Division in 2015 consists of Brampton City Utd. Brantford Galaxy, Burlington SC, London City, Milton SC, Niagara United FC, SC Waterloo, Scarborough Utd, Serbian White Eagles, Toronto Atomic Selects, Toronto Croatia, and York Region Shooters.
The CSL season runs from mid-May through early October, followed by a playoff series leading to the CSL Championship. Games are played mostly on weekends.
The current CSL champions are York Region Shooters following their penalty kick victory over Toronto Croatia in the CSL Championship Final played at Esther Shiner Stadium October 26, 2014. The Shooters completed a 21-game season undefeated.
During the past four years more than 40 CSL players have been selected for national duty in various countries – mostly national youth teams and a number of these players have signed for high level clubs.
Looking back over the decades of the CSL and its forerunner leagues, soccer historian Colin Jose wrote in his book ‘On – Side’, that the National Soccer League (the main forerunner league of the CSL) was born out of turmoil in the tumultuous years of the 1920s. He describes the league as having stood the test of time when other leagues have come and gone in Canada, an observation that holds good to this day as the CSL exhibits an endurance without parallel in Canadian sports.
From the first game between Toronto Ulster and Windsor Rovers on June 19, 1926, the NSL was for many years the pre-eminent league in Canada and the United States.
Today, the league continues with its professional standing as a now private and important member of a growing and rapidly developing soccer structure in North America. Its self-governing status and continuing allegiance to soccer’s rules, regulations and policies as set out by world governing body FIFA, upholds the integrity of the world game for its players, non-playing personnel, match officials, fans and supporters and the Canadian soccer community.
As it enters a new 2015 season, the CSL endeavors to continue providing the highly attractive soccer for which it has become known over the many decades.