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TFC players weigh in on needs of national squad
March 31, 2009, 7:19 AM
Filed under: Canada, Toronto FC

The last time Canada was looking for a new men’s soccer coach, Dwayne De Rosario pushed for the hiring of Brazilian Rene Simoes.

But in the end, the board of the Canadian Soccer Association didn’t hire the man who led Jamaica to an unlikely appearance in the 1998 World Cup, apparently because he wanted to bring in his own support staff and that was too expensive.

So, Canadian Dale Mitchell got the job in May 2007. He led the team to a 0-4-2 record in the semifinals of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying last fall and was fired on Friday.

Now, the debate is renewed over the passport of his replacement.

If the CSA hires a big-name coach with international experience, “I think people would take us a little more serious,” De Rosario, a national team member and midfielder with Toronto FC, said yesterday.

Such a coach would demand more and bigger friendly matches in Canada and a higher profile for the team, said De Rosario, who has 15 goals in 52 games for the national side. There would also be more support for top-flight trainers, psychologists and “all these things that we need to go over that hump,” he said.

“Of course, bringing in a person like that demands a lot,” De Rosario added. “And I think that puts a threat into a lot of people’s pockets … and that’s where we have a problem.”

TFC goalkeeper Greg Sutton, who has played 11 games for Canada, said no matter who is named, the new coach will face “a tough time” because of the CSA’s finances.

“It’s not getting the necessary funds that they need to be a successful program,” said Sutton, who is critical of the provincial soccer associations for not doing enough to help the national program develop players across Canada.

Canada is ranked 94th in the world in men’s soccer.

CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli said yesterday the organization hopes to generate more revenue and exposure for the national team in Canada by playing more home games, something the new women’s head coach, Italian Carolina Morace, also wants for her side.

Montopoli said he also thinks “a new head coach could possibly bring everybody together” ā€“ provincial associations, sponsors, fans ā€“ with a new philosophy aimed at improving the performance of Canada’s men’s teams, as is happening under Morace with the women.

“The provinces, I believe, are gathering momentum and becoming more and more supportive of the national teams program,” he said.

Montopoli said the CSA is determined to “come up with the best candidate” in its coaching search, just as it did with Morace, who was hired in February to win medals internationally with the world’s 11th-ranked women’s team.

“I don’t think we’ve said we’ll be limiting it within Canada or just looking only externally,” Montopoli said. “It’s more wide open.”

With Canada out of the running for next year’s World Cup in South Africa, there’s no rush to find a permanent replacement for Mitchell. An interim coach could handle the team in its next games, a friendly in Cyprus in May and the Gold Cup in the United States in July.

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