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Could Soccer Ever Become the Number One Sport in Canada?

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In a hockey mad market, Whitecaps star Pedro Morales raised some eyebrows with the assertion that soccer can become the number one sport in Canada in the next 10 to 20 years. Is he right?

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Morales sure hasn't shied away from the spotlight since taking over the Captaincy from the newly retired Jay Demerit. In addition to his marvelous match versus FC Dallas on the weekend, Morales raised some eyebrows with comments before the team took off to Chicago for tonight's match.

"It feels like soccer can take over hockey and football one day, and it should happen in 10 to 20 years."

Uh.. Wha?

First off, I love the passion from Morales, a guy who appears to really enjoy playing in the city of Vancouver and wearing a Whitecaps kit. However, I think the general consensus among fans and media has been that Morales is being overly-optimistic. While I think the Whitecaps will one day overtake the BC Lions as number 2 in this city (if they haven't already), hockey is too ingrained in Canadian culture to ever be dethroned.

Soccer is gaining momentum, and massive events like the World Cup certainly help expand the brand in North America. However, it's difficult to grow that in Canada, where the National team is still stuck in the starting gate. While hockey fans can gather to watch team Canada put together an All-star team during the Winter Olympics, Canadian soccer fans need to adopt different countries with competitive teams during major tournaments. When you're not cheering for the Maple Leaf, it can feel hollow.

Now on a local scale, if the Vancouver Canucks continue to struggle, then Morales might actually be on to something. While there has been renewed optimism in the Canucks since the trio of Trevor Linden, Jim Benning and Willie Desarjdins took over, that will mean nothing if the team sucks when the season comes around. If it's another trainwreck like 2013, then the Whitecaps might be able lure over a percentage of the fan base.

The Canucks were a boring team that didn't score last year, while the Whitecaps are an exciting team, albeit one that has scoring problems of their own. If the Canucks brand continues to sink and the 'Caps continue to rise, then there may actually be something to Morales' comments. That being said, that's a ton of 'what if's'

So what do you think? Could soccer become the most popular sport in Canada? How about just in the city of Vancouver?