CSA needs patience in hiring new men's coach | Soccer | CBC Sports

CanadaCSA needs patience in hiring new men's coach

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013 | 10:31 PM

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Dwayne DeRosario represents a crop of older Canadian players who may not be around even if Canada were to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press) Dwayne DeRosario represents a crop of older Canadian players who may not be around even if Canada were to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

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It has been less than 100 days since former Canadian national team head coach Stephen Hart stepped down after a disastrous exit during World Cup qualifying, and the Canadian Soccer Association appears to be in no rush to name a successor.
It has been less than 100 days since former Canadian national team head coach Stephen Hart stepped down after a disastrous exit during World Cup qualifying, and the Canadian Soccer Association appears to be in no rush to name a successor.

Nor should they be.

With a pair of friendlies set for later this month against Denmark and the United States, and the only other competition on the horizon being the Gold Cup this summer, the CSA should take all the time it wants. In fact, it shouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that it waits until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to name the new man in charge.

That suggestion may send a few reeling, aghast at the thought of the national program being rudderless for so long, but it comes down to a matter of priorities.

Should the national team's goal be to compete to the best of its ability in every available game, match or competition? Or should it be about building to the successful qualification of a World Cup?

As it stands right now, looking at Canada's talent pool in terms of up-and-coming players weighted against the soon to be retired stars (I use that term loosely) of the present, 2022 is probably Canada's next best window of opportunity.

That's not an easy thought to stomach. The idea of washing out Russia 2018 before qualification has even begun won't sit well with most. But it's time to take a hard look at a program in transition and make some difficult decisions based on what's available.

Will the likes of Julian DeGuzman, Dwayne DeRosario and Kevin McKenna be around for the next World Cup cycle? They may have said they'd like to be, but given that it will cement the spine of the squad at firmly over 35-years-old, there is some question as to whether that is in Canada's best interest.

Conversely, will the likes of Samuel Piette, Marcus Haber and Doneil Henry be ready to take on the best in the region by the time they're collectively around 25? They may have shown great promise, but even they will likely tell you they are not ready to lead a nation.

Canadian men in state of limbo

The reality is Canada now finds itself in a state of limbo as the old guard falls away and the new recruits aren't battle-worn enough to lead. Assigning a new head coach now would do little more than to start the clock ticking on the eventual calls for their firing.

Most successful coaches don't last more than a World Cup cycle, let alone those who have to undergo the handling of a transition period. And transition in soccer usually means losses.

Along that line of thinking, between the early part of 2014 and the conclusion of the Brazil World Cup, Canada will begin finding itself with a number of options.

Experienced coaches, who failed to qualify their teams through difficult regions, as well as those who are seeking a new option after a World Cup, will suddenly be looking for a new place to ply their trade. Canada can be that place. The CSA isn't as bereft of money as it once was, and with the organization increasingly putting its governance house in order, it can be an attractive option for a coach looking to make a statement.

In the meantime, however, if the CSA is to wait, it needs someone to help start that transition for the senior side. Colin Miller, head coach of FC Edmonton, is expected to be named the next coach with the provision that it is to only be an interim assignment.

Hart benefited from some mostly emotionally charged success early on as an interim head coach. He would later parlay that into a full-time gig, but never again realize the success of the 2007 Gold Cup, where he led Canada to an unfortunate semifinal exit.

If Miller were to experience a similar blip during the friendlies or at the Gold Cup this summer as Hart did, it shouldn't set off calls to make that assignment permanent.

In the not too distant future, Canada needs a leader with experience winning in the region and ideally a track record of qualifying for senior competitions - the CSA cannot lose sight of that. Right now, Canada needs the patience to develop a long-term strategy for a coach over the next two cycles of World Cup qualification - one that can blend the experience of an aging squad with the fresh faces of the younger generation.

Failing to do so, either by rushing to name a successor for the sake of naming a successor, or making another emotional-driven mistake based on limited early returns, will find Canada right back where they are, well, now.

It's time the CSA demonstrated some gravitas and not bend to the will of shortsighted critics - those who would have them barreling down the next blind alley that presents itself, instead of waiting for the right option to present itself.

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