Only a fool didn't see this coming. And only a handful of fools could have botched it like they did.
On Friday, the Canadian Soccer Association fired national team head coach Dale Mitchell. In a statement, CSA president Dr. Dominic Maestracci confirmed that Mitchell had been "released," adding that the decision was made to "move the program in a new direction."
One can only shudder to think exactly where that "new direction" will go. The past two years have been a disaster for the CSA, both on the field and off it. In addition to guiding the senior men's team to a 3-7-5 record and premature elimination from World Cup qualifying, Mitchell was at the helm of the Canadian Under-20 squad that failed to score a single goal at the 2007 Youth World Cup. All the while, his superiors on the board of directors botched one decision after another.
But if the CSA's competence was initially questioned after former president Colin Linford quit his post in August 2007, it has since been totally discredited. The organization that Linford once labelled a "kitchen-table association" was never going to keep Mitchell on staff into the summer.
That they waited until five months after the team's last international match is preposterous. CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli claims that Canada's failure to progress in World Cup qualifying allowed for the association to take its time in its decision-making. This from the same man who, upon announcing Mitchell's sacking to reporters on Friday, stated that the board of directors "felt in the best interest of the program it was time to move forward--in maybe a different direction."
Maybe? Did the CSA somehow think that a FIFA ranking of 94 was, perhaps, the "right" direction?
One prominent Canadian soccer commentator believes "the CSA's terrible reputation worldwide" will hinder its ability to replace Mitchell. They can't afford to pay a very good coach to come in more than two years ahead of the next World Cup cycle, he says.
Given that Mitchell will remain on the payroll until 2010, the CSA has even fewer resources with which to lure a permanent replacement. This, after all, is an organization which opted to save money by not scheduling a friendly match during this week's international break.
In the short term, the CSA will probably appoint an interim coach who is already on the payroll. In other words, they'll choose between technical director Stephen Hart and staff coach Tony Fonseca. A source close to the national team has already told the Winnipeg Sun that Fonseca will be a part of the setup, whether as head coach or as an assistant.
Either way, it appears as though the CSA will go the unimaginative route once again. They did it two years ago, and nothing has changed to suggest that it will be different this time around.
One Canadian coach who came through the ranks in Winnipeg has been hired to a prominent post with the Romanian national setup. Eduardo Badescu, the club head coach of Winnipeg South End United, is now the technical advisor for Romania's national Under-17 soccer programs.
Badescu's resume is impressive. After nearly a decade as a junior-level player in Romania, he won a quartet of Senior Cups in Manitoba and was a player for the now-defunct Winnipeg Fury.
As a coach, he was accredited with his National B License in 2002, and in 2003 was awarded his A License by UEFA in Bucharest. (Curiously, Canadian national team coaching candidate Tony Fonseca does not have his A License.)