Morace to step down as Canadian women's coach
Italian will leave her post after this summer's World Cup
The landscape of women's soccer in Canada will undergo a major change this summer, as Carolina Morace, head coach of the Canadian women's team, will quit her post after the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Multiple sources confirmed to CBCSports.ca that Morace, along with her staff, will leave the Canadian team following the World Cup, which runs from June 26 to July 17 in Germany.
Morace is said to be at odds with the Canadian Soccer Association over the long-term strategy of the women's program.
The CSA, Canadian soccer's governing body, confirmed to CBCSports.ca that it received a letter from Morace stating her intention to quit after the World Cup but declined to comment further.
"The Canadian Soccer Association has and will continue to support the Women's National Team Program to ensure its best possible opportunity for success at the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 and beyond," the CSA wrote in an email to CBCSports.ca.
Two Canadian players voiced their support of Morace via social media.
"Sad news for women's soccer in Canada. So much progress under such little time... imagine the possibilities if #morace stayed," defender Candace Chapman posted on her Twitter page.
Midfielder Kaylyn Kyle tweeted: "We support her decision 100%."
The pending departure of Morace, who turns 47 on Saturday, is a big blow for the women's program.
Since taking over the coach reins in early 2009, the Italian manager has whipped Team Canada into shape, instilling the virtues of maintaining possession and playing one-touch soccer.
Morace's arrival marked a distinct tactical switch for the Canadian women's team. Previous coach Even Pellerud preached a one-dimensional style of play that emphasized the long ball, physical strength and endurance.
But under Morace, the Canadian team played a more stylish, technical and direct brand of soccer.
The players responded to Morace's tactical revolution, winning the CONCACAF Women's World Cup Qualification Tournament in Mexico last November. Canada also won last year's Cyprus Cup and a Four Nations Tournament in Brazil December 2010 during Morace's tenure.
Canada also went on an 11-game unbeaten streak that was eventually snapped on Jan. 23 when it lost to the United States at the Four Nations Cup in China.
"I think the team loves [Morace's system] and me personally, I think this is the way that soccer was meant to be played," star forward Christine Sinclair recently told CBCSports.ca.
A change in playing style was only half the story behind the Canadian team's renaissance.
Morace also changed the team's training methodology, and demanded her players be faster and more physically fit.
Sinclair, in particular, benefited from the changes in training regime. Not exactly a slow player under Pellerud, the star forward dropped weight and picked up an extra touch of speed since the Venice-born Morace took over as coach.
One of the reasons why Morace earned the respect of her players is because the Italian played the game at the highest level.
Morace debuted for the Italian women's national team in 1978 and went on to score 105 goals in 153 games for her country. She played in the first ever FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991 in China, scoring four goals before Italy was knocked out in the quarter-finals.
Morace is also the only woman in Europe to have coached a pro men's team, having run Serie C side Viterbese in 1999.
"She's a type of coach who expects a lot from her players in training and in the games. She expects players to be disciplined outside of training in terms of nutrition and diet, rest and things like that. At the same time, she jokes around with the players," Sinclair said.
Canada, ranked ninth in the world, opens the World Cup against two-time defending champion Germany on June 26 in Berlin.