State of Canadian soccer not all CSA's fault

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Short of a complete change of direction and attitude, there is really nothing new anyone can tell the Canadian Soccer Association that would improve the men's national team program.

The last time Canada's soccer spirit on the men's side was lifted was nine years ago after its shocking Gold Cup win.

Since then, the program has regressed. Increase in investment has been minimal. There has been no new innovative strategy to make the senior program any stronger. It creates little news, generates little interest and its lack of success simply buries itself further in the national sports scene.

In fact, the only thing that has been consistent, well publicized and evolving is the criticism of the program by many senior players involved in it and ex-players who have left it.

Jim Brennan, Dwyane DeRosario, Greg Sutton and others have taken aim at the CSA and scored with the accuracy of a well-placed free kick.

The latest to deliver a groin kick is Canadian midfielder and perhaps most talented player, Julian de Guzman. He said that the CSA does not take the game seriously and said its failure to properly prepare the team caused Canada to play like a bunch of amateurs in their failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

Let's take one step at a time. The players have every right to be critical of the system and frustrated by it. It's been years that changes have been promised and at the senior level has not shown any sign of improvement, or what's more disconcerting, any sign of change.

But they don't have the right to wash their hands of this situation. Canada's play at last year's World Cup qualifying was embarrassing. There was a lack of preparation and poor planning. But the players have control of their destiny at their feet. They had chances to win but at key moments failed miserably, making errors and showing an inability to finish games. Those are their inadequacies, not the CSA's.

That said, until the CSA recognizes the need to find someone who can throw out the old system entirely and bring in a new one, senior soccer in this country will remain what it is - an insular, never-ending circle of the same-old, same-old.

Too many people that have been brought up in a Canadian system that is noted for failure rather than success have moved into the ranks as major players in that system's continued development.

Dale Mitchell is the national team senior coach. He's been brought up through the Canadian system as a player and coach. He wasn't successful as coach of the under-20 team at the FIFA under-20 World Cup and the senior team's performance in World Cup qualifying was abysmal.

Even England, a nation that is culturally invested in soccer, went to Italian Fabio Capello to help them take the next step. No one knows whether it will work in the long run but the English are off to a pretty good start. It's all about recognizing what needs to be done at a level Canadian soccer and coaches in Canadian soccer have rarely operated at.

There is talent at the men's level of soccer in this country but for many of the current group of players, hope for immediate success is gone. With the same administration in place, the same ideas in place, and the lack of sustainable funding, changes won't come quickly enough to help the senior national program and its current players.

If there is any good news, it's that Canada is producing more talented young players than ever before and things may be better for them ... if those in charge of the sport finally get the message.


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