August 28 – Canada Soccer’s men’s head coach, John Herdman, has quit to take up the post vacated by Bob Bradley at MLS team Toronto FC.
Herdman’s 12 years at Canada Soccer has been a successful period for the country though his end will be tinged with the suspicion that his men’s team did not quite fulfil their potential, despite qualifying for their first World Cup in 36 years.
The Englishman from the North-east joined Canada Soccer as head coach of the women’s team taking them to back-to-back Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016, and leading the team through the home hosted Women’s World Cup in 2015.
Herdman then switched to the men’s team and built a national programme based around some outstanding local talent including Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies, Tajon Buchanan and Jonathon Davies.
The Canadian men had their breakthrough moment in 2019 at the Gold Cup with a stylish run that took them to the quarter finals before being knocked out by never-say-die Haiti in a game the Canadians were leading and should have won.
In 2021 the Canadians were knocked out in the semi-finals by Mexico in another game they came close to winning, but they had established themselves as a regional force within Concacaf, leading the confederation qualifiers for Qatar 2022.
This summer has failed to deliver on the expectations of the progress made with the Canadians well beaten by the US in the Nations League finals in June and being knocked out by the US in the quarter finals of the Gold Cup just a month later. Herdman was not helped by player unrest and disputes between the federation and players over money.
Herdman’s frustration boiled over during the Gold Cup when speaking about the potential of Canada going into a home-hosted World Cup in 2026 said: “….we’re not serious. We brought a World Cup to our country and we’re not serious about winning it.”
From that point it became clear that Herdman, despite his major achievements in helping turn Canadian Soccer around, had a limited shelf life left in charge.
Charmaine Crooks, president, Canada Soccer, was quick to acknowledge Herdman’s contribution.
“John Herdman is the most successful head coach in the history of Canada Soccer. From leading the Women’s National Team to back-to-back Olympic bronze medals, paving the way for their gold medal in 2020, and to leading the Men’s National Team back to the FIFA World Cup, John’s contribution to the game in Canada is unmatched,” said Crooks.
Herdman’s time with Canada Soccer, which included 101 ‘A’ international matches as head coach of the Women’s National Team and 58 ‘A’ international matches as head coach of the Men’s National Team.
“I am grateful for the incredible opportunity to have represented Canada for the past 12 years, for the moments I’ve been able to share with the players, the staff, and the supporters,” said Herdman.
“I arrived from New Zealand in 2011 with the aim of changing the game in our country… The goal was always to leave the game in a better place and I’m confident that goal has been achieved for Canada.”
Mauro Biello, an assistant coach on Herdman’s staff since 2018, will take over as interim head coach. Herdman will work with Biello through the month of September to ensure a seamless transition, said Canada Soccer.
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