The former Canada international and current Whitecaps president believes player development is the key to getting the national team up where it belongs and feels being involved with a professional competition such as MLS will go a long way to achieving that goal.
“The [original] NASL was great for players that were older and could step into rosters right away, but we haven’t had anything to ever allow for proper development from a very young age through to the professional level,” Lenarduzzi told MLSsoccer.com.
“What will make a difference over the long term is clubs investing in player development and allowing that process to do what we think it can do.”
One player that could have done with a professional setup is Manchester United’s Owen Hargreaves, who was born in Calgary but opted to play for England, but Lenarduzzi says Canadian soccer cannot lay blame on the midfielder not staying in his homeland.
“People say, ‘Well he’s from Canada, he developed here and he should have played for Canada’, but I never agreed with that,” Lenarduzzi insisted. “I think [Hargreaves] made decisions based on what was best for him.
"If, in fact, Canada had a program that would provide him with a good opportunity at an international level, I would have said that he should really seriously consider Canada," he added. "But when he did decide to go play elsewhere, I never blamed him.”