John Herdman

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP, File

Canada coach Herdman aims for 2022 World Cup

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We haven’t talked about 2022 World Cup qualifying in some time, as the focus was on the USMNT finding its coach, then Gregg Berhalter implementing his style, and soon winning the 2019 Gold Cup to ensure a spot in the 2021 Confederations Cup.

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There should be a ton of focus on the U.S. bounce back for any number of reasons, especially considering that qualifying for the next World Cup may be the last time the U.S. has to truly worry about its berth (unless Gianni Infantino gets his way and miraculously implements an expanded field for 2022. Then Berhalter and Co. are set already).

So with three-and-a-half spots available, it’s of-note any time a manager admits his national team side should earn one of those berths in Qatar.

Today, we’re talking about the biggest underachievers in CONCACAF for the better part of the last 20 years, and that’s Canada. The Canucks are led by John Herdman, and he’s bringing a mentality of expectation that’s been lacking from the unit in some time (although there were strides under Benito Floro) From Sportsnet.ca:

“We don’t have excuses. I don’t want to be that guy making them. At the end of the day if we don’t qualify for [2022], it’ll be a disappointment. To put that level of expectations on the team is critical. The team wants that, they’re ready for it. They know it’s now or never for many of them,” Herdman said.

“So, when you say, ‘how do you know it’s going to happen?’, we have to make it happen. But more importantly, we have to believe, and I think that belief is there from the men who are going to be leading the charge.”

He also, albeit not in so many words, admitted that the Canadians have underperformed in recent cycles.

First of all, no one is catching Mexico this cycle. El Tri are in something akin to a golden generation, and have the following stars in their prime: Wolves’ Raul Jimenez, Diego Reyes, and Hector Herrera, with Hirving Lozano getting there and several veteran leaders on the end of their elite window but still easy CONCACAF stars (Memo Ochoa, Hector Moreno, Andres Guardado).

So that’s 2.5 half spots.

Canada is ranked 78th in the world by FIFA and is 68th in the Elo Ratings. That puts them 8th and 7th amongst CONCACAF sides, as El Salvador is much lower in Elo than FIFA (and Elo is superior as an analytical tool. We’ve placed the chart at bottom).

Considering that the USMNT historically underperformed in 2018 qualification and Panama lucked into the tournament via a goal that did not cross the line, and it’s easy to predict a reverse in fortunes for the those two, but can Canada get in the Top Three (or the playoff spot) by moving ahead of 2-3 of the U.S., Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Jamaica (Considering Canada a contender requires they pass El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago).

If anything, the time is now for this group of Canadians, considering they’ll host the 2026 tournament with the U.S. and Canada. Les Rouges have vastly under-performed at two of the last three U-20 World Cups since giving the Americans a scare in the 2013 Round of 16. But they had a quality 2017 Gold Cup, and missed the 2018 World Cup qualifying Hex because Mexico had nothing to play for in the final game and drew Honduras.

Canada is still very low on overall depth and has a generation of player-first entitlement to overcome, but has CONCACAF star power in Alphonso Davies, Junior Hoilett, Scott Arfield, Cyle Larin, and Jonathan Osorio, a UEFA Champions League goalkeeper in Milan Borjan, a rising Liverpool teen in Liam Millar and the wild card of Barcelona property and former Montreal forward Ballou Tabla. Not to mention, the new and promising Canadian Premier League will make it easier for Herdman to scout potential next level stars.

Canada is currently en route for a Pot 3 ranking for the fourth round of World Cup qualifying (the last stop before the Hex). It would be drawn into a group where the main combatants will be one of Mexico, the USMNT, and Costa Rica, and one of Jamaica, Honduras, or El Salvador.

It’s not crazy at all to think Canada would edge Honduras and El Salvador for a top spot, and a group with Costa Rica where points will be live in those two fixtures. And the Canucks have a tactical boss with a chance to outwit another manager.

Hot take: Los Ticos are still long on experience but a bigger question in terms of depth and youth, missing three of four U-20 World Cups. That tournament shouldn’t be the lone arbiter of future goodness, but it’s something.

Even given the 2018 qualifying embarrassment, I fully expect the Yanks to qualify for 2022 in Qatar. Honestly, I think Jamaica might be the third-best group in terms of talent, with Costa Rica and Honduras interesting for different reasons. To borrow from the other football, Panama out-kicked its coverage and should be considered no certainty for the Hex. T&T is tricky at home. If Canada can be, there’s a really good chance they make the Hex.

Canada hires women’s coach Herdman to coach men’s team

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Canada has named women’s national team coach John Herdman as its new men’s national team coach and technical director, replacing Octavio Zambrano in an unprecedented move.

According to a report by Canadian soccer publication Soccer Today, Herdman was offered the England women’s national team job, and used that as leverage to win himself the men’s job. As a result, according to the report, Zambrano was a casualty in a move that first and foremost was about keeping Herdman in the system.

Zambrano was hired to lead the national team in March, most notably leading the team to its first Gold Cup knockout stage since 2009 as the team finished second in group A before losing 2-1 to Jamaica in the quarterfinals.

Herdman, meanwhile, has never coached on the men’s side at the international level. The English-born coach led the New Zealand women’s team from 2006-2011 before moving to the Canadian women’s team where he has been the head man since.

“We felt as an organization that we needed to make some decisions for the longer term and our long-term philosophy, looking at growth of the men’s national team program and the youth development program. In terms of that review, we determined that we had the ideal candidate internally in John Herdman,” Canada Soccer president Steve Reed told Sportsnet.

Herdman said he had informed the Canadian federation earlier this year that he was interested in moving to the men’s game. “From a motivational side, you get to that point in your career where you’re starting to feel ready for a new challenge, and the stars sort of aligned in some ways that some opportunities were presented in front of us…They were very good opportunities. I had some tough decisions to make and that led towards keeping a future here in Canada,” Herdman said to Sportsnet.

Kenneth Heiner-Møller, an assistant under Herdman on the women’s side, will take over as women’s head coach and program director.

WATCH: Sinclair’s gorgeous spinning goal sends Canada to Olympics

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Christine Sinclair did what she does best, make the tough look easy, and the world’s leading active female scorer helped Canada to the Olympics.

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Sinclair’s 17th minute chest trap and finish gave Canada a 1-0 lead, assisted by Josee Belanger, and John Herdman’s side saw something even better in the second half en route to a 3-1 win on Friday in Houston.

Costa Rica won a PK to make it 2-1 with 15 minutes to play. The decision was treated with some controversy, but we’re fine with the awarding of the pen.

Raquel Rodriguez converted, but that was as close as Las Ticas would come. It would also go down as the only goal Canada allowed in qualifying.

Sixteen-year-old Deanne Rose popped in a winner from Nichelle Prince.

Canada faces the winner of the  8:30 p.m. ET kickoff between the United States and Trinidad & Tobago in the tournament’s championship match on Sunday.

Regardless of that result, the Canadians are off to Rio.

John Herdman to lead Canada women until 2020

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After leading the Canadian women’s national team to a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, head coach John Herdman signed a contract extension on Thursday that will see him in charge of the team until 2020. It ensures he will be coaching when Canada hosts the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015.

“I am thrilled to know that I have the support from the Canadian Soccer Association to not only build a strong women’s program but also to have the opportunity to implement it and see it through after the Canada 2015,” Herdman said in a federation release. “We now have the clarity to move forward, focus on our performances and put in place the stepping stones to truly leaving a lasting legacy for women’s football in Canada.”

Herdman’s deal was set to expire after the 2016 Olympics, but after an unexpectedly positive showing in London, where Canada took the United States to extra time in the semifinals, he has re-upped his deal for a further four years.

“Just like it was the case when we initially announced him as our new women’s head coach two years ago almost to the day, we continue to believe that John has the leadership and vision to develop the clear pathway this country needs to grow women’s football in addition to world class performances on the pitch,” federation general secretary Peter Montopoli said.

Canada’s next match is Oct. 30 against South Korea at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., followed by a matchup against Mexico on Nov. 24 at B.C. Place in Vancouver, B.C., which will also host the 2015 World Cup final.