When the Canadian men's national team takes on Costa Rica Tuesday in Edmonton, it will mark the fifth straight game the senior side has not had a full-time manager patrolling the sidelines.
Since accepting the resignation of former head coach Stephen Hart, following the 8-1 loss to Honduras that abruptly ended Canada's World Cup qualifying campaign last fall, the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) has been content to use interim managers to help usher in the next generation of players.
And with the CONCACAF Gold Cup just over a month away from starting, it is looking increasingly like Canada is in no rush at all.
"We had a soft deadline around the Gold Cup. It wasn't a hard and fast deadline. It was more of a, 'it would be nice to have somebody for the Gold Cup' but we weren't married to it," CSA president Victor Montagliani told me. "The truth of this stuff is that it is so fluid. Right now, I don't see us having anyone before [the Gold Cup]. But I could hang up the phone right now and by Monday I could have a coach. That's the way it works."
Speculation has run rampant the past two weeks that Canada was getting close to signing a high-level coach from Central America.
Montagliani was coy on the matter.
"Oh, we were?"
Instead, opting to reveal the extent to which they were spreading their search.
"I think it would be unfair to name any names. All I can tell you is that we have touched every confederation in terms of our search. On the ground and by phone," he said. "I get a phone call, not daily, but a few times a week from agents saying my client is interested. It's that time of the year now, too. Club coaches are ending their season and looking for work. The longer we go in this process, the more candidates we're going to have."
Montagliani estimated there would be as many as 150 coaches to pick from by October, with club season's beginning and World Cup qualifying coming to an end for some countries.
"It's obviously the top priority on our list. But [CSA general secretary] Peter [Montopoli] and I do not see any urgency," Montagliani said. "I can only speak to the time I've been at the CSA, but we've never ever done a search and due diligence to this depth when looking for a coach. We know we need to get it right."Looking beyond the present
So, what is it that they're looking for? Up until this point, the CSA has largely said that they were seeking someone with knowledge of the region. Montagliani confirmed they were looking beyond the present.
"I think one of things we're looking for is obviously someone with international experience -- preferably with CONCACAF-like experience," he said. "We want somebody that has a proven track record with respect to handling national team experience. But also experience working in environments that are very similar to what we face here in World Cup qualifying -- when we go to Honduras, Costa Rica and places like Mexico."
Perhaps tipping the CSA's hand further, Montagliani expanded on the terms of their search.
"There are areas in the world where there are similar away environments. So, people may not have CONCACAF experience, but, for example, if you coach in the African Nations Cup it's probably not far off. Going away to Uganda is not exactly a picnic, right?" Montagliani said.
"I'm pretty happy with our process so far. At some point this year, we will have a coach. But we're being patient," he said. "Our players are playing games. We're trying to get as many games as we can so they have experience. Even players, perhaps, who may never get to the World cup qualifying stage but they deserve an opportunity to show what they have are coming in. These are all opportunities, regardless of who is on the sideline, to show what they have."
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