Canadian coaches abroad

John van 't Schip

The Canadian Soccer Association’s history of hiring head coaches has been covered before. It’s what got me first writing on this site. But there’s a chance to change all that with a progressive appointment this year. Dutch and Ajax veteran John van ‘t Schip is one of the managers with a Canadian connection that could be available.

First, we’ll have to wait until interim coach Colin Miller finishes the job at the Gold Cup. It’s not clear if a successful tournament will help Miller’s chances of getting the full-time job or not – it didn’t help Stephen Hart in 2007, even if he got the job eventually – but Miller will be expected back at FC Edmonton, and it may be time for a full-scale changing of the guard from a CSA notorious for promoting from within.

More cynical fans of the Canadian national team might doubt the CSA’s hiring committee, but last year’s humiliating World Cup exit (which we will never, ever speak of again) has served as a wake-up call. Now, I don’t expect them to spend big, but it’s nice to daydream about what could happen if we followed the model of countries like Russia and had our soccer-mad billionaires subsidize the head coach’s salary (Frank Stronach, Jack Kachkar and Greg Kerfoot, you interested?).

There’s been talk that Bruce Arena is a realistic target; the current LA Galaxy coach has qualified for the World Cup from CONCACAF before, albeit with a relatively strong US team. Other commonly-named candidates are the recently-sacked duo of Paul Peschisolido and Frank Yallop. It might not be inherently preferable to have a coach with Canadian roots, but for the sake of consideration, here’s a look at some of the other candidates in world football:

Former Dutch international John van ‘t Schip has a Canadian connection, having grown up on the Sunshine Coast in BC before moving to the Netherlands with his family at age 9 (fun fact – Joe Nieuwendyk is his cousin). After some success coaching in Australia, he’s been out of work since his sacking at Chivas last year. Van ‘t Schip can’t satisfy the CSA’s target of someone with experience getting results in Central America – his Chivas team lost 1-0 in Guatemala in the Champions League – but he may have learned from that experience, and the former Ajax man could even get some advice on the Canada job from mentor Johan Cruyff.

Croatian-Canadian Goran Miscević is on the move again, having taken up the manager’s reigns at recently-relegated Al Ittihad Kalba in the UAE. The former Brampton United boss is a specialist with promotion-chasing clubs in the region, having coached teams in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman, and he likely won’t be available until the job is done one way or another next summer. He even has a small amount of international experience to speak of, having spent a brief period as an assistant with the Iraq national team.

Enzo Concina recently made the jump from Napoli to Inter Milan, where he’ll continue to work as assistant to incoming coach Walter Mazzari. The former Canadian international finished his playing career with Montreal, but would be difficult to lure back home until he or Mazzari are finished at Inter. This experience coaching at such a high level, though, can only be a benefit to any future spell with the national team.

Marc Bircham was a fan favourite with Canada and Queens Park Rangers as a player, and he’s been coaching at the West London club since 2009. He’s already shown an eye for developing Canadians, having likely had a say in the signings of youngsters Michael Petrasso and Dylan Carreiro for the club’s academy last year. Like Peschisolido, he may be a bit young at this point, but definitely remains a candidate to bring his passion to the job in the future.

UPDATE: Bircham helped out new coach Benito Floro with some national team coaching ahead of Canada’s October friendly with Australia in London, England. The game was at Craven Cottage, just across town from Bircham’s full-time QPR job.

Congratulations to former Canadian youth international and Cardiff City physio Nilton Terroso on the Welsh side’s promotion to the English Premier League, and to Russian-Canadian Marina Granovskaia for her appointment to Chelsea’s board this month. Credit also to Mark Watson for succeeding Yallop as San Jose head coach and Nick Dasovic, who joined him as an assistant last week.

Know of any other Canadian coaches plying their trade overseas? Let me know in the comment form below.


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About canadianfootball

Student of the game. @scott_ferguson

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