Marc Dos Santos - Swope Park Rangers
Steve Kingsman/Ottawa Fury FC

Squizzato: A short list of Canadian national team head coaching candidates

Who will be the one to lead Canada forward over the next three to six years?

That’s the question the Canadian Soccer Association is currently attempting to answer, as they seek a replacement for Benito Floro as full-time manager of the men’s national team.

The Spaniard’s tenure ended after Canada’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign concluded last month, and CSA president Victor Montagliani has promised an “exhaustive” international search to find Floro’s successor.

With no timetable as to when that choice will be made, the team’s followers have been left to speculate about who’s in the mix. Here are some of the names that have been tossed out there so far.

Marc dos Santos

The 39-year-old has managed the Montreal Impact in their pre-MLS days and Ottawa Fury, and served as an assistant at Sporting Kansas City. He’s currently with Swope Park Rangers in USL, and is set to join the NASL’s San Francisco Deltas next season.  

He’s also got several years of experience as a youth manager and technical director in Brazil. If the CSA decides to go with a Canadian, the relatively fresh-faced dos Santos might be their best option.

Nick Dasovic

He managed the Canadian Under-20 and Under-23 national teams, as well as being Toronto FC’s interim bench boss in 2010. He was most recently an assistant with the San Jose Earthquakes until 2014.

His familiarity with the Canadian system is a plus, and his work as a TV analyst has kept him in the public eye. But his lack of full-time pro experience – and the fact he hasn’t coached in two years – would make him a tough sell at this juncture.

Michael Findlay

The current interim manager was an assistant under Floro and has lots of experience in the Canadian youth ranks. If the senior team has success in his time at the helm, the idea of him taking the full-time gig might pick up some steam. 

But given Findlay has no prior full-time experience managing a senior team at any level, it’d be very difficult to argue he’s the most qualified candidate to take the national team reins right now.

Carl Robinson

Well known to Canadians as a Toronto FC player and Vancouver Whitecaps manager, the affable Welshman has come up in some online discussions, with fans wondering whether a frustrating season could lead to his exit from Vancouver.

For what it’s worth, he’s had jaunts down to Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago in the CONCACAF Champions League, and has worked with some of the young Canadian players who’ll likely feature with the national team in the years ahead.

Jesse Marsch

We know Marsch wanted the job four years ago. Whether he would still want it today is another story.

Either way, the revelation of Marsch’s bygone interest in the Canada post has thrust his name back into the conversation. The former Montreal Impact and current New York Red Bulls bench boss has CONCACAF experience, both in the Champions League and having served as an assistant to Bob Bradley with the USA in 2010-11. Speaking of which…

Bob Bradley

It was a nice dream, but now it’s over.

The 58-year-old ticks a whole lot of boxes when it comes to what Canada needs: a track record of success in different environments, loads of CONCACAF experience and a deep knowledge of the quirks of the North American game. So it’s no wonder his name came up among Canadian fans.

But his move to Swansea City on Monday officially ends that speculation. Don’t worry, though, the world is full of managers to speculate about.

René Simões (sort of)

No one has brought up the 63-year-old Brazilian as a candidate, but he’s the model for what the CSA could be seeking: a manager with a broad international pedigree as well as success within CONCACAF.

Simões famously led Jamaica to the World Cup in 1998 and was set to become Canada’s manager back in 2007, until internal squabbling nixed that plan. But the CSA has largely gotten its house in order since then, and their hiring of Floro shows they’re now willing to make a splash on a foreign gaffer.

They likely won’t hire Simões himself (though he is available), but don’t be surprised if the CSA does target someone who brings similar qualities to the table.

John Herdman

The idea has been (half-jokingly) floated that the women’s national team manager should jump ship to the men’s team. It’s so absurd that it hardly merits a mention… but here we go anyway.

Aside from the fact that assuming Herdman would readily abandon the women’s team for the men’s team is just a tad misogynistic, there’s also no guarantee that the success he’s had with the women’s team would even translate. And if it didn’t, the move would simply torpedo both national teams simultaneously – and for what?

Herdman is doing a good job with the women’s team. He should continue doing it. Meanwhile, the CSA should find the person who’ll be his equivalent on the men’s side – a proficient evaluator of talent that can hopefully guide the team out of the darkness and onward to unprecedented levels of success.

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