Brennan quits national men's soccer team
'I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things'
Don't expect to see Jim Brennan playing for the Canadian national team anytime soon.
Not as long as current manager Dale Mitchell remains in charge.
Brennan, 31, has been a fixture for Canada since making his international debut in 1999, but the Toronto FC defender cited growing frustration with both Mitchell and the Canadian Soccer Association as his reasons for temporarily walking away from the national team.
"I spoke to officials here at Toronto FC, my family and friends, and decided that it was best that I step down from the national team while the current manager is in place," Brennan confirmed Tuesday.
"That's not to say I won't play for Canada again, it's just that there's a lot going on that I don't agree with, I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things."
Brennan, who has played in 49 games for Canada, said he made the decision after Canada's recent loss to Mexico, but that he would be willing to return to the national team in time for next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup — provided Mitchell has been replaced as coach.
"We'll see, if someone else comes in for the Gold Cup next year and things are improving and I'm selected, then I'll be involved with Canada again. But for the time being I'm going to take a step back," said Brennan, who hasn’t informed the CSA of his decision.
Brennan has been used sparingly by Mitchell in Canada's current World Cup qualifying campaign.
He was an unused substitute in a 1-1 tie against Jamaica at BMO Field in August, came on for the final seven minutes of a 2-1 loss to Honduras in Montreal on Sept. 6, and was substituted out early in the second half of a 2-1 loss to Mexico four days later.
But the Toronto native insists it isn't a lack of playing time that led to his decision.
Playing his cards close to his vest when pressed by reporters, Brennan would only say he has issues with how the team is being run both on the field by Mitchell, and off the field by the CSA.
"I want to be very careful in what I say," Brennan said. "There are a lot of issues.
"There are a few people who shouldn't be there, there are a few people on the bench who shouldn't be there. When this World Cup campaign is over, I think a lot of players will come out and say how they feel, but they can't right now because of the situation."
While praising the work of assistant coaches Stephen Hart and Nick Dasovic, Brennan believes there are officials involved in the running of the team and the CSA that aren't qualified for the job.
"I have all the time in the world for Stephen and Nick … [But] there are a couple of people in the organization that you think, 'should they really be there?'" Brennan said.
Last week, Mitchell named his 20-man roster for Canada's upcoming qualifying games against Honduras (Oct.11) and Mexico (Oct. 15 in Edmonton).
Brennan did not make the cut, which he said he has no problem with, but he felt the CSA showed a "lack of class" in not informing him personally of Mitchell's decision.
"I've played almost 50 games for Canada and I didn't even get a phone call saying I wasn’t on the team," Brennan said. "I've played a lot of games for Canada, a lot of soccer during my career, and I think it's a respect issue.
"I give out respect and for them to not even pick up a phone and say you won't be involved — which is fair enough and I can handle that — but to not even get a call that I wasn't selected and there were a few other players in the same boat as me, I think it's disgraceful."
Canada and Jamaica are tied for third place in their CONCACAF semifinal qualifying group with one point apiece after three games. Mexico leads the group with nine points, followed by Honduras (six points).
Only the top two teams in the group move on to the final qualifying round, so Canada needs to win two of its final three games to have a chance to advance.
Even though he's left the team, Brennan said he will be cheering for Canada as it attempts to pull off a miracle and qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
"I would love nothing more than for the guys to qualify and make it to the World Cup," Brennan said. "Growing up as a kid, it's a dream every soccer player has — and the boys can do it.
"And if they do, I would be delighted for them and I would support them 110 per cent all the way. I wish them all the best and I hope they turn things around and make it to the World Cup."
CBCSports.ca tried but failed to reach the CSA for a comment.