Wanted: Dynamic technical director for Canadian soccer | Soccer | CBC Sports

CanadaWanted: Dynamic technical director for Canadian soccer

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2012 | 08:32 PM

Back to accessibility links
Tony Fonseca, centre, seen at a CONCACAF qualifier earlier this year, could figure in a larger role in the CSA's plans going forward. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press) Tony Fonseca, centre, seen at a CONCACAF qualifier earlier this year, could figure in a larger role in the CSA's plans going forward. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

Beginning of Story Content

Hiring a technical director and, perhaps, forming an intermediate national league could help determine the path of Canadian men's soccer for years to come.
Stephen Hart resigning from his post, as national team head coach, will be likened to the loyal leader falling on his own sword for the good of the game but in reality this moment is nothing more than another example of Canadian soccer gutting itself.

Hart, for what its worth, has accepted much of the blame following Canada's 8-1 loss to Honduras on Tuesday. He has done so throughout his tenure. Every time Canada fell short - Tuesday wasn't the first time Canada threw itself off a cliff in the last couple years - Hart nobly put up his hand and refused to point fingers. It stands in stark contrast to the years under Hart's predecessor, Dale Mitchell, whose tenure concluded with both players and coach slinging mud.

Hart's move today is what you would expect from a man who has been a dutiful servant of Canadian soccer and is, on a personal level, very likable. But likable and personable don't mean much in world of football.

In fact, most will forget that Hart leaves behind one of the best winning records of any Canadian national team coach in recent memory (25-15-10). But that knowledge will do little to buoy his legacy, which unfortunately is now burned into collective consciousness as the guy who lost 8-1 and cost Canada a real chance at the World Cup.

How real those chances ever were is certainly up for debate but in the results-driven world of international football - where some coaches don't even make it through a full World Cup cycle - today's news was inevitable.

Even as Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani broke the news to the press and lauded Hart with the normal swath of pleasantries, you got the sense this was always going to happen. Hart resigning, instead of being fired, is just a nice way of letting a nice man keep his dignity.

Men's soccer in Canada won't be, and shouldn't be, afforded the same luxury though.

This program has been a collective joke for too long now and the scrutiny that will come with a dramatic loss, such as the one to Honduras, should be welcomed.

Before Canada can get around to thinking about naming their next head coach though, two things desperately need to happen if soccer is ever going to find its way out of the wilderness.

The first thing that needs to happen is the hiring of a full-time technical director. Montagliani hinted that a hire had already been made and an announcement was expected before the end of the month.

Canada has been without the position, one whose purpose is to shape the overall focus of the program, since Hart took on the head coach role in 2009. The case can be made that the reason Canada, with all its wealth and population, has struggled to develop quality players over the years, is a lack of strong leadership at this level. Little fiefdoms across the country are content to go their own way, developing players as they see fit.

The odds-on favourite to assume the role will be Tony Fonseca, the current CSA high performance director and U-23 head coach. It won't be the big name signing that some hope for, but his knowledge of the domestic and international game, as well as the ins and outs of the problems that exist in Canadian soccer, make him a solid choice.

But whether it's Fonseca or another, the new director will have a more important job than finding a face to front the next World Cup campaign. They need to lead a conversation on the prospect of creating a lower-division national league, to assist in the development of Canadian youth players.

Talented young Canadians need a place to refine their skills in a professional environment. Mom and Dad volunteers help drive soccer in this country, but orange slices and minivans don't develop international calibre players.

Last year, the CSA commissioned a study to look at the feasibility of such a league and those findings are currently before the CSA board. Today, Montagliani laid this problem out bare.

"Creating this is imperative to ensure what happened on Tuesday doesn't repeat itself. We need to fill in the vacuum under the MLS level with a division two-type league," he said.

Montagliani added he wants that discussion to begin in the next 60 days.

And with that you can be sure that the next two months will define where soccer goes for Canada over the next decade. If the CSA gets it right with the technical director hire and if they can start to lay the foundation for a national league, Canada can begin putting itself on the right path once again.

If they don't, on either account, it won't matter who Canada hires as its next head coach. Today's scene, where a good coach is forced to step away, will continue to repeat itself every four years.

End of Story Content

Back to accessibility links

Story Social Media

End of Story Social Media

Comments are closed.