Canada’s soccer

Is a country that is struggling to stay in the top 100 of the FIFA ranking worth writing about? Does anybody even care about “soccer”, when there’s baseball, ice-hockey and other games, that use the name “football” for themselves?

It was important to me, that a Canadian voice is involved in writing this article to not be suspected of an ‘arrogant European view’ as there are several critical and progressive views everywhere in the country.  I am happy to have collaborated with Yiannis Tsalatsidis throughout this article, YT has experience ranging from grassroots – club – college – high performance coaching and is one of the most promising young coaches in the country.

In his Keynote ‘The Development of Soccer in Canada’ Jason de Vos did not shy away from talking about the ugly truths within the Canadian system. This is expected from someone who holds the title of “Director of Development” for the country. One thing is clear, he does not fit the cliché of a know it all ex pro who claims to have all the answers based on past experiences.

Born in London, Ontario, he managed to have a respectable career and collected an impressive 170 appearances in the English second tier, fittingly called the ‘Championship’ and also lead Canada in bringing home a Gold Cup in 2000.

Canada is ranked 10th in the world for registered players and that jumps to 7th when you only count youth players. Yet the country still struggles to crack the top 100 in the FIFA rankings. Regardless of the fact that most of these registrants play soccer for solely recreational reasons (most are looking for a second sport to play next to hockey) one thing is clear: Canada does not lack a player pool.

Even with the consideration of Canada’s multi-sport culture we still find a lack of player progression from this large pool.  Instead, the organization of soccer in this context seems to be the major issue. The link between rather abstract problems from a macro level and the thousands of everyday playing/training experiences can be summed up in one word: Coaching.

In the next few paragraphs I will provide analysis from both a strategic and tactical point of view. Firstly, I will discuss general ideas and the ‘tactical culture’ in Canada (or the lack thereof). Afterwards, I will explore the recent performance of Canada’s men’s national team in the friendly versus Jamaica which will be supported with video material.

From this, I will move on to discuss the professional spectrum of Canadian soccer and the tactical level of the respective teams in various leagues in North America linking it to the previous findings. This includes samples from rather randomly selected games. Reoccurring topics are again put into separate videos and graphics. I did something similar in my first ever article for, when I offered a critical view on German youth soccer.

At the end, I will share some personal insight to my (daily) working process in a local club. This will ultimately lead us back to the heart of it all: Coaching soccer.