Tuesday, May 15, 2007


After CSA President Colin Linford was not able to get the approval from the CSA Board of Directors for the hiring of Brazilian Rene Simoes as Men's National team coach, Dale Mitchell the current Canadian Under-20 and former Canadian International is now set to become the National team boss (according to reports in the Toronto Star & Globe & Mail). Simoes became the number one choice after a panel, including player representative Dwayne De Rosario of the Houston Dynamo, selected him from a short list of 4 candidates that also included former World Cup winner and Tottenham manager Ossie Ardiles of Argentina according to the reports this morning.

My take: Although I would have preferred a foreign coach, someone with the pedigree and respect at the International level and the CONCACAF Region, I was always a bit weary of Simoes since his name was revealed. Simoes clearly understands our region having coached teams in CONCACAF and he did lead Jamaica to the World Cup in 1998 . Of course the manner in which he led Jamaica was not exactly a product of his tactical brilliance or coaching expertise, in my opinion. You may recall Simoes basically recruited players of Jamaican ancestry playing around the world to make up the bulk of the starting team. Many who had never even been to Jamaica before. Sure he had to bring those players together and turn them into a cohesive unit, but the shear number of players he imported into the team diminished the accomplishment of reaching France in my eyes (England based Frank Sinclair, Darryl Powell, Deon Burton, Robbie Earle, even Toronto native Andy Williams amongst others were some of the players brought in).

Dale Mitchell gets his chance, probably not the manner he would have liked, but its a great opportunity nonetheless. He was probably the best midfielder to ever suit up for our country. Mitchell was a brilliant player one of my favourites growing up. I remember watching him closely during his visits with the National team, Vancouver 86ers, and when he played locally for the Toronto Blizzard in the CSL days. American readers may remember Dale from his days in the MISL, where he was one of the best players for many years.

Will he light up the imagination of the soccer fans across the country? Probably not. Mitchell does however offer a true understanding of the Canadian setup and mentality, and probably has a better grasp of the current crop of players than anyone else. He will also understand the limitations of the sport in our country, something that is not easily understood by foreign coaches (Holger Osieck comes to mind). His biggest challenge in the short term as National team boss, in my opinion, will be to lure Toronto native Jonathan De Guzman to come home and play for Canada. His focus until July of course will be the Under 20's. Stephen Hart will lead Canada to the Gold Cup next month.

My dream coach for Canada has always been Canadian born and raised John Van't Schipp, who is Marco Van Basten's assistant with Holland. The former Holland, Ajax, and Genoa player was born and grew up in British Columbia before his family moved back to Holland and he was discovered by Ajax Youth system. Not sure what type of compensation the likes of Van't Schipp would command, but I would assume it is quite substantial, and well beyond the reach of Canadian soccer. I'll keep my dream alive though, after all I would never have thought I would be watching MLS live in my hometown, 20 minutes from my house no less, in a sold out soccer specific stadium a few years back, yet here we are today!


Jan from The Hague said...

Van 't Schip would be a nice choice for Canada. I think a Guus Hiddink-like construction (remember Australia?) would serve you well. However, Dutch coaches Erwin Koeman (Feyenoord) and Bert van Marwijk (Feyenoord and Borussia Dortmund) are free too and great choices. So call the soccer bosses!

greetings from Holland by the way!


Thanks for the input Jan. Our soccer federation in Canada is, and always has been, inept at running the sport at the national team and development level. When the Internet became popular and people around the country started gathering online, fans unhappy with the state of the game, finally had a platform to vent and complain. Many fans began calling for changes within our Federation. At the time we were put down and called a small minority of complainers by the COO president in the media. The state of our Men's National team has gradually grown worse over the years.

Without interest from the mainstream media, and the soccer media too afraid to cause a stir, our complaints went no where. We apparently did not reflect the majority, who were happy with the state of soccer in our country according to the CSA.
More recent attempts by the leading Canadian fan group to make the CSA accountable, has finally caught the attention of the media. I was so happy to read and hear about their actions!!!

Only recently has more attention been placed on the inept governing of the sport at the highest levels in our country. The media is now starting to take notice. The leading sports writer in Canada, Stephen Brunt, a soccer fan no less, just last week wrote an article on the state of soccer in Canada (I've been writing him for 11 years trying to convince him to expose the CSA).

Anyway, I agree Hiddink worked miracles for soccer in Australia and South Korea. Someone like him (less expensive though) is what is needed in Canada. When you look at much smaller, less developed countries like Jamaica, hiring the likes of Bora Milnutovich, and Trinidad hiring Dutchman Leo Beenhakker and now Wim Rijsbergen, in order to take them to the next level, it is difficult to remain optimistic about our national team program.

It is truly incredible to see how many people from around the world are interested in Toronto FC. I have had interest (daily returning hits based on my stats) from over a hundred countries, on every continent. Based on emails, many are Canadians working abroad who have caught the soccer fever or were soccer fans to begin with(perhaps some players as well). Others are have lived, worked or travelled to Toronto, and have grown a connection to our city. Of course the greatest interest outside of North America is coming from the UK and other countries in Europe (Spain, Holland, Sweden, Germany).Interest is also coming from other regions.

When Chinese player Xu Qing was on trial during the intial training camp over at the Soccer Centre, hits from Asia skyrocketed. His presence alone helped put TFC on the map in China, with many (from Hong Kong - having lived in Toronto previously) writing in to tell me how excited they were to have discovered Toronto has a soccer team, they can now follow from afar. I'm also shocked by the interest (# of hits) from countries in the Middle East.

Thanks for the kind words and a warm hello/welcome to everyone reading in far off places!!!

jan from the hague said...

That's some reply, Superfan. I agree on your analysis of the Canadian game. I've been following MLS and with special interest the Canadian MNT for years now and am really excited about TFC too. My brother lives in Ontario (been there last year) so I've had something with Canada and soccer in the country myself. Let's hope TFC opens the eyes of the CSA. There are some great talents abroad that can definitely help Canada reach South Africa in 2010. Think about Jonathan de Guzman and Marcel de Jong in Holland, but also those in Germany, England, Scotland and Spain.

Anonymous said...

I'm very disapointed a the lack of respect from the board of directors towards the fans in nameing Dale Mitchel as head coad. South American coaches are way more experienced to lead our team to a word cup. Aren't they all keeping most of the money that they do not have enough to pay Rene Simoes? no way. The CSL board of directors do not care about us, only their pockets. Shame on you!