Dale Mitchell lands Canada's top soccer job

Dale Mitchell was named coach of the Canadian men's soccer team on Thursday.

Canadian under-20 men's soccer coach Dale Mitchell has been promoted.

Mitchell is now responsible for helping Canada qualify for the 2010 World Cup, as on Thursday he was officially named coach of the Canadian men's senior team.

Mitchell, 49, a striker for a handful of teams in the now-defunct North American Soccer League, will remain at the helm of the Canadian junior side through July's FIFA U-20 World Cup, which Canada will host.

Under-17 coach Stephen Hart, a native of Trinidad and Tobago who resides in Halifax,will guide Canada's senior side at next month's Gold Cup in the United States.

Canada had been without a coach since Frank Yallop left the job last June to become coach of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, the team Real Madrid playerDavid Beckham signed with in January.

The Canadian Soccer Association conducted a lengthy search to fill the vacancy and narrowed its short list to Mitchell, Hart, Brazilian Rene Simoes and Argentine Ozzie Ardiles.

Linford said the CSA board wanted to go with a Canadian candidate. The board also elected not to have one person serve as both coach and technical director.

Mitchell 'deserves the chance': Brennan

Canadian national team midfielder Jim Brennan applauded Mitchell's appointment.

"I think it's good. Dale has worked extremely hard as the coach of the Under-20 team," Brennan told CBC Sports Online."He's done well with them. I think he deserves that chance and I wish him all the best with the World Cup team."

Brennan, also captain of Toronto FC, believes Mitchell's work with the under-20 team made him an ideal candidate to take the reigns of the senior side.

"He's worked with a lot of young guys. He's worked with the older guys, so he knows everybody. Whereas if you get a [foreign-born] manager in, it takes time for him to see what everybody is about, where Dale has that first-hand knowledge."

Members of Canada's under-20 team also think Mitchell is up for the job.

"He's a player's coach," said midfielder Jaime Peters."He tells you how it is, and you just have to work harder and he makes you learn. You know where you stand with him.

Defender David Edgar said Mitchell is"a confident coach.

"He knows what he wants from his players. He's a nice guy but he can also be tough on his players, so he has the respect of everybody in the locker-room."

Mitchell played for the Vancouver White Caps and Portland Timbers from 1977-1982. He also played for the Montreal Manic in 1983 and went on to play in the Canadian Soccer League and the Major Indoor Soccer League before retiring in 1994.

Mitchell played 55 games for the Canadian national team, making 55 appearances from 1980 to 1993.He is tied for the title of Canada's all-time leading scorer with 19 goals.

Mitchell, a Canadian Soccer Hall of Famer, also played in the 1986 World Cup.

Led under-20s to two world tournaments

A Vancouver native, Mitchell took over Canada's under-20 side in February 2002 and guided the team to the world championships in 2003 and 2005.

The FIFA U-20 World Cup will take place from June 30 to July 22. Six cities - Victoria, Burnaby, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal - will stage games, with the final slated for Toronto's BMO Field.

Canada is slotted in Group A with Chile, Austria and Congo, and will play its first-round games in Toronto and Edmonton.

The U-20 World Cup is the second largest event staged by FIFA, soccer's world governing body, after the men's World Cup.