Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Pedro Morales said he believes soccer can become more popular than hockey in Canada, according to MLSSoccer.com.
Morales is a Chilean international who has played for Chile's national team and professionally for clubs in Chile and Spain, including for La Liga's Malaga. He said the passion for soccer he's seen in other countries is making its way to North America.
"I can feel the excitement of the fans that fill BC Place every game," Morales told reporters Monday through translator Omar Salgado at Vancouver International Airport. "That environment that there is in Spain and these other countries is coming into countries like Canada and the US.
"It feels like soccer can take over hockey and football one day, and it should happen in 10, 20 years."
MLSSoccer.com reports Canadian fans bought more tickets to the 2014 World Cup than any other country whose national team didn't qualify for the tournament.
MLS first expanded to Canada with the addition of Toronto FC in 2007. A total of six teams have been added to the league since then, with plans for four more teams to join in the next several years. Average attendance at MLS games has risen from 15,504 in 2006 to 18,608 last season.
Morales, who joined the Whitecaps before this season, has seven goals in 16 games this year.
- Ben Estes