Thursday, January 11, 2018

Was this the Right Move for Canadian Men's soccer?

The biggest change of events in Canadian Soccer history unfolded before our eyes earlier this week when we were made aware that the long time successful Canadian women's coach was making the jump to the long time underachieving Men's program.

People had suggested it before, myself included but all it was at the time was a last chance grasp at trying to find answers to what seems like a generation long problem.

I'm not a veteran soccer annalist by any stretch of the imagination, it started with the MLS adopting the Vancouver Whitecaps into their league. Soon came the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers and than I later became hooked with the English Premier League. This all became like a drug to me on weekend mornings and it has grown into a obsession.

We can dissect everything that has gone wrong over the last decade from the grass roots to Central American horror stories but the reality is, Canada is turning a corner by their standards. Their Gold Cup campaign was anything but dull and World Cup Qualifying games at home are now games fans expect to win. The final two peices to the puzzle were supposed to be a coach that knew what he was doing like Octavio Zambrano and a successful bid for the 2026 World Cup.

To me, this is why, the news has between so altering. Our National teams best player, still hasn't even graduated high school yet and English players such as Scott Arfield and Junior Hoilett have committed to our country.

The fear of losing John Heardman is a valid concern, but to say he has to ability to succeed at the Men's game is anyone guess. There is a reason successful coaches at certain levels aren't  promoted to another league just because it gets more publicity. Why hasn't Nick Sabban gone to the NFL or Coach K at Duke made the jump to the NBA. Perhaps a more appropriate example would be Geno Auriemma the Women's basketball coach at Uconn accepted a job offer at a Div I men's team? The simple answer is it's a completely different game.

That last paragraph isn't supposed to come across a sexist. It is fair for anyone of those questions to be asked. Personally, I think teams or schools don't do it cause they are feared it won't work out and they will be farther behind than they were.

In terms of the Canadian Men's soccer coaching Carlisle, they pick from a larger pool of talent from coaches who have coached in Latain America before. As the track record has played out, those coaches haven't had much success in qualifying but attendance has gone up in the last three Qualifying cycles.

With Canada slowly turning the corner, so has CONCACAF. They have introduced the CONCACAF League of Nations that will give Canada games before the 2022 cycle begins that they wouldn't have had in previous quadrennial. For this reason, now seems like a good enough time to gamble a bit.

We don't know all the details around the Octavio Zambrano exit, but we do know that Canada has new coach that is already a house-hold name that even know by nom soccer fans. This might be the spark that Canada needs. In theory, people will watch Canada's games because of John Heardman's success withe the lovable women's team.  

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