Canadian Soccer League

The Canadian Soccer League (CSL) is run by the Canadian Soccer Association and used to be known as the Canadian Professional Soccer League. The CSL was re-upped under its current name is May of 2006. Interestingly enough, despite being the country’s flagship league, the CSL does not sent its champion to the CONCACAF Champions League, as many of the country’s best teams play in leagues based outside Canada, including the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC as members of America’s top professional soccer leage Major League Soccer and NASL members the Montreal Impact and FC Edmonton. Nonetheless, the CSL is Canada’s top league operated from within the nation.

The CSL schedule is different from its European counterparts, as it begins in April or May and ends in October or November, due mostly to the brisk Canadian weather, which makes playing in the winter months impossible. The league consists of 14 teams and they play in one division. Each team plays the other 13 twice, and at the end of the season the eight highest seeds advance to a playoff. The opening rounds are a home and away series, which are then followed by a one-game semifinal playoff match. The championship affair is a one-game match to determine the CSL champs. The CSL maintains an ongoing petition to get its championship squad invited to enter the CONCACAF Champions League.

The CSL, while only six years old, has a long history of precursor leagues. The National Soccer League, which changed its name and form several times before 2006, was formed all the way back in 1926. In fact, the National Soccer League remained under the same name until 1992, before it switched first to the Canadian National Soccer League, then to the Canadian Professional Soccer League, and finally to the current CSL format. The 14 current teams in the CSL roster are the Brampton City United, Brantford Galaxy, Capital City F.C., London City, Mississauga Eagles FC, Montreal Impact Academy, North York Astros, SC Toronto, Serbian White Eagles, St. Catharines Wolves, TFC Academy, Toronto Croatia, Windsor Stars, and the York Region Shooters. The Toronto Croatia have been the most successful team in the league’s history thus far, having won four championships in the league’s history, dating to the change from the Canadian National Soccer League to the Canadian Professional Soccer League and its current CSL status in 1998. The St. Catharines Wolves are the only other franchise to have won more than one championship during that time, having taken home two trophies for postseason excellence.

With expansion rapidly changing the landscape of the CSL over the past few years, and an all-time high 14 teams currently in competition, betting on CSL play is complicated. This isn’t the UK’s EPL or Spain’s La Liga, where there are a few top teams and the rest are also-rans. The CSL is wide open, and in fact, just in 2010, two expansion teams competed against each other in the league championship game in their first seasons. This means that a bet on the underdog in the CSL is often a good one, and can produce quick gains and sometimes big chunks of change. Just beware the ongoing volatility of the young and seemingly constantly changing league.