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Canadian Premier League draft lets players keep eligibility

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How could you make college soccer and professional soccer better in the United States?

Just follow the lead of the new Canadian Premier League.

The CPL recently held its first college draft ahead of, naturally, its first professional season.

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As someone who’s fascinated by nascent leagues in North America, in particular the start of this one, I took a peek at who was drafted and saw something a bit odd.

Fourteen of 21 picks are in their first, second, or third year of college (out of five in Canada).

So I rang up one of the top college coaches in U Sports — Canada’s NCAA — and he’s not worried at all. Why? Because the players are leaving school early, at least for now. They are allowed to stay in school.

Players will leave their colleges for the pro season, then return to school in the summer for their college seasons.

Back to the “at least for now” point: It will be interesting to see what happens when one of these kids are key contributors to their pro club and have to go back to school.

The college programs will improve and be more stable, kids will find college soccer more attractive, and the pro teams could catch the rights of top prospects at a younger age and play a role in their development (in turn developing the college game).

Here, of course, is where I could say that it would be amazing if the NCAA found a way to do this. But that would be disingenuous.