Octavio Zambrano - coaching for El Nacional in Ecuador
Micaela Ayala V. / Agencia de Noticas ANDES

Former MLS manager Octavio Zambrano hired as new Canada head coach

Canada have finally found their new head coach, as the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) announced on Friday that it has hired former MLS head coach Octavio Zambrano as men’s national team manager.

Sportsnet’s John Molinaro first reported the news on Thursday.

“We are very excited to welcome Octavio to Canada Soccer after our extensive search for a new head coach to lead our program into the next cycle of FIFA World Cup qualifiers,” said Canada Soccer president Victor Montagliani in a statement. “Canada deserves to have its men’s national team program perform on a consistent basis and Octavio’s experience within professional club and academy settings around the world will allow him to lead program alignment and solidify the second pillar of our Leading a Soccer Nation plan: consistent, world-class performances by our national teams.”

Canada have been under the guidance of interim head coach Michael Findlay since September, when the CSA chose to not renew former head coach Benito Floro’s contract following Canada’s elimination from World Cup qualifying.

This is the first national team job for the 59-year-old Zambrano, who has coached at a number of clubs all over the world throughout his career. He spent a good chunk of time in MLS, managing the LA Galaxy from 1997-1999 before taking the MetroStars head job from 2000-2002. The Ecuadorian served as an assistant with LA in 1996 and at the start of the 1997 season and worked under Peter Vermes as Sporting Kansas City’s lead assistant from 2009-2011.

Zambrano posted an 80-55-8 record as an MLS head coach, giving him the 12th-most wins of any coach in league history. He most recently led El Nacional in his native Ecuador in 2015. Prior to taking the El Nacional job, he managed Colombian club Deportivo Pereira from January 2012-April 2013.

“I would like to thank Canada Soccer for this incredible opportunity to lead the men’s national team program and align the strong and deep talent pool that exists from coast to coast,” said Zambrano. "My passion is the development of young athletes and I view football as part sport, part art, and part entertainment. I will look to portray all three through the tactics and player development within the men’s national team program.”

Canada, who are currently ranked 117th in the FIFA world rankings, have not qualified for a World Cup since 1986. The country last made it to the CONCACAF Hexagonal in the 1998 World Cup cycle.

Zambrano’s appointment comes ahead of this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where Canada have been drawn into Group A with Costa Rica, Honduras and French Guiana. Canada will take on Scotland in a friendly next Wednesday.