TFC NAMED JOHN HERDMAN AS THE HEAD COACH
Toronto FC announced on August 28, 2023, that it has named Canada Men’s National Team Head Coach John Herdman as the club’s Head Coach.
Herdman, 48, will support Canada Soccer with the transition of his current role and assume coaching responsibilities with the club as of October 1. T
“I’ve had a great relationship with John over the years and have always been impressed with his ability to get the most out of his teams,” said Toronto FC President Bill Manning. “John is more than just a coach. He’s a great leader and a culture builder. We look forward to John having the same positive impact with TFC as he has had with Canada Soccer.”
At the international level, the English native brings years of experience and success to the club, having managed New Zealand (2006-2011) and Canada (2011-2018) Women’s National Teams and most recently the Canadian Men’s National Team (2018-2023). Throughout his career, Herdman has coached in one FIFA World Cup (Qatar 2022), two Concacaf Gold Cups (2019, 2023), two Concacaf Nations League (2019-2020, 2022-2023), three FIFA Women’s World Cups (China 2007, Germany 2011, Canada 2015), three Summer Olympic Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016) two FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups (Russia 2006, Chile 2008) and one Pan American Games (Mexico 2011).
“I am keen to start this new opportunity with Toronto FC. Personally, it’s the right time for me to step into a new challenge in my career, and the structure of a club environment is a context I’ve aspired to operate in. Having access to connect and collaborate with the staff and players daily allows for a different depth of development and connection, both on and off the pitch,” said Herdman. “To continue my coaching journey in a Canadian city that I know well, playing at BMO Field – a stadium where I’ve experienced some of my favourite sporting moments, with incredible fans, is quite amazing. I want to thank President Bill Manning and MLSE for trusting me with this project. I am motivated to work with this team and an organization of this calibre. There’s work to be done, and we recognize that transformational change takes time. We understand what it will take to make a difference, and I am committed to getting this city and club where it belongs.”
Born in Durham, England, Herdman took over the Men’s program in 2018 and enjoyed a successful tenure leading the Canada Men’s National Team (CMNT) to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the Final of the 2023 Concacaf Nations League. In the 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Qualifiers, Canada topped Mexico and made history on March 27, 2022, when Les Rouges defeated Jamaica by a score of 4-0 to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 36 years (Mexico 1986). During that period, he managed Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio, a mainstay in Herdman’s side who played a key role in the qualifiers that saw Canada finish top of the Concacaf qualifying region with 28 points. Under his leadership, Canada reached 33rd in the FIFA World Rankings in February 2022 – the country’s highest men’s ranking to date.
“I am happy to welcome John as the new head coach of Toronto FC,” said Toronto FC General Manager Jason Hernandez. “I look forward to our collaboration together as we work to build and improve our club in every facet.”
Before working with CMNT, Herdman enjoyed a successful seven-year period from 2011 to 2018, leading Canada Women’s National Team (CWNT) to finish as group winners and reach the quarterfinals at 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. In his first year, he led Canada to their first-ever Gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games (Guadalajara, Mexico) after defeating Brazil 4-3 on penalties. Herdman also guided Canada to back-to-back Olympic Bronze medals at the 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio Summer Olympic Games.
Herdman became the first manager to lead both the women’s and men’s national teams to a FIFA World Cup. He held a 62-32-14 record as Head Coach of the CWNT and a 36-14-8 record as Head Coach of the CMNT.
Herdman began his coaching career as a Development Coach with the Sunderland A.F.C. Academy in England. The Englishman joined the New Zealand Football (NZF) Association in 2003. Three years later, he was appointed Head Coach of the New Zealand Women’s National Team, leading the U-20 team to the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship and the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, and also led the senior team to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games (Beijing) as well as the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2007 and 2011.
Eric Tenllado, Simon Eaddy, Robyn Gayle, and Alex Dodgshon will join John Herdman’s Staff
“This group of people have experienced winning many times at BMO Field in the biggest moments for Canada in front of many of these fans and are highly motivated to experience that feeling with Toronto FC,” said Herdman. “We feel privileged to be able to work for the people of this city and will, as always, give our all to bring the success our fans deserve.”
Tenllado joins Toronto FC’s coaching staff as the Assistant Coach and Performance Lead, bringing extensive coaching experience at the club and national team level. Prior to joining TFC, Tenllado spent over five years with Canada Soccer, where he served as an Assistant Coach at the FIFA World Cup (Qatar 2022), FIFA World Cup Qualifiers (2021, 2022), two Concacaf Gold Cups (2021, 2023) and one Concacaf Nations League (2022-2023).
Eaddy joins Toronto FC as the club’s new Tech Co-ordinator & Goalkeeper Coach, bringing over 17 years of international soccer experience to Herdman’s coaching staff. n
Gayle joins Toronto FC’s First Team as the Performance and Wellness Coach after spending the past eight years working with both the Men’s and Women’s National Team Programs. With TFC, she will focus on developing, delivering, and monitoring the team’s cultural framework and performance plans for the First Team players.
Dodgshon joins Toronto FC’s coaching staff as the club’s Scouting & Analytics Coach. Prior to joining TFC, Dodgshon spent over two years with Canada Soccer, where he served as Lead Opposition Analyst for the Canadian Men’s National Team during two Concacaf Gold Cups (2021, 2023), one Concacaf Nations League (2022-2023) and one FIFA World Cup (Qatar 2022).
In addition, Herdman has retained Terry Dunfield as an Assistant Coach. He worked alongside Herdman with the Canadian Men’s National Team and served as a Technical Assistant and Performance Analyst at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The jury is out on Herdman coaching TFC’s last match of the 2023 MLS season
Herdman took over the coaching duties on Sunday, Oct. 1, and chose to start his tenure on the last game of the season on Nov 12, 2023.
What he was expecting is anyone’s guess; to this point, it seems like all he did was add to the long list of Reds losses in 2023 instead of beginning his TFC career at the start of a starting. At this juncture, only John Herdman knows what we don’t.
“It’s that phrase of ‘enough is enough,’” Herdman said at the year-end media availability. “The tolerance level of what might have been tolerated in previous preseason arrivals won’t be tolerated for this team.”
At BMO Field, everyone saw that former team captain Michael Bradley was also past his prime after being blown past in the defence and allowed two goals.
“This was one of those seasons where everything that could go wrong went wrong, but also some of that was of our own doing as a club, whether it was players or staff,” said club president Bill Manning. “John wants to wipe the slate clean, but he’s also saying enough’s enough. We’ve got to look in the mirror.”
Toronto FC Fires Bob Bradley & Hires John Herdman
The jury was out for quite some time on Toronto FC’s Coach, Bob Bradley. and it was decided that his enthusiasm and passion could not have taken the Toronto FC team to the next level of play based on questionable selection and mediocre performances. The Reds had two Designated (DP) Players and three midfield players from Canada’s World Cup Qatar team in their lineup, yet the losses continued to pile up.
Bob Bradley’s expertise was never in question before he got the job as TFC coach. And with his son Michael as the team captain, it seemed like a good fit for him. However, even with his long resume in coaching, it became crystal clear that Bob’s lustre was gone, based on his substitutions and adjustments to matchups from opposing teams.
At Stars Soccer Review, we keep our reporting positive and objective with our coverage. However, after watching the Reds’ performances, taking an objective position on Bob Bradley’s coaching tenure in Toronto was extremely challenging.
Our sole report on the Reds was on whether the glass was half empty or half full because it was evident that TFC was struggling to gel as a team and find their identity. As an optimist, you may have thought things would improve, but if you knew the sport and watched the TFC games, you would have noticed that the team needed to go in a different direction from Coach Bob Bradley.
It is an understatement to say that Bob Bradley and Toronto FC were a bad mix. While it seemed like the end of his tenure was very much a done deal, it could not have come at a better time for the club’s ownership since there were talks that the Reds supporters were planning to wear paper bags over their heads for the home games at BMO Field.
As a result, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment dodged a bullet with another great marketing job by releasing Coach Bob Bradley, his assistant coach and technical director Mike Sorber. I’ll be surprised if coach Bradley was surprised by his release after his team managed just three wins over 20 games and, more importantly, played less than inspiring soccer, resulting in blown early leads and allowing late goals.
Bob Bradley took over Toronto in November 2021. He was relieved of his duties on Monday, 26th June 2023, after a run of poor results that has the club second from the bottom of the Eastern Conference, with a 3-7-10 record and ahead of Inter Miami franchise, which is about to have Lionel Messi in their lineup.
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Canada re-enters the Lion’s Den in Qatar.
The FIFA World Cup kicks off at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on Sunday, November 20th, with the opening ceremony followed by the host Qatar playing against Ecuador. The exciting news for Canadian fans is that after a 36-year absence, Canada will be one of the 32 teams competing for the Cup. The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, and while there are always skeptics, the Qatar world cup is expected to be the best edition of the tournament. From a media standpoint, the world cup in Qatar promises to be quite an adventure since the infrastructure caters for travel to the seven stadiums, and the media is presented with a daily offering of two games out of the four being played at the group stage. Canada is in Group F with Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco, and as the lowest seed in the group, the team has a chance to become the story of the world cup. Canada meets Belgium on Wednesday, November 23rd, Croatia on November 27th, and Morocco on December 1st. And with the top two teams advancing to the Round of 16 knockout stage, all eyes will be on Canada as the Cinderella team. Canada seems ripe and ready to perform at this tournament despite several anxious moments heading into the tournament when player injuries were of huge concern.
However, all is well that ends well since the key players regained fitness and were named to the 26-man world cup squad. Canada will have to perform with the same underdog mindset as the CONCACAF world cup qualifying octagonal tournament, where they defeated higher ranked teams such as Mexico, USA, and Costa Rica. And while a Concacaf tournament is not the same as a FIFA World Cup, defying odds at any level is a great confidence builder, especially when Canada lacks the world cup experience. However, Coach Herdman and his staff have defied the odds and can certainly reinforce the belief that their world cup mission can be accomplished. Let’s not be fooled; Canada is up against a heavily favoured Belgium team that has a ton of talent with world cup experience and depth at all positions. Canada, on the other hand, can have a neutralizing effect if its youth and team speed work in coordination with an effective game plan. Canada has experienced players who play in the big leagues in Europe. Still, it is a fact that there is no league level compared to the world cup, where positional play (shape) and assignment protocol are at a premium. There is no doubt that Belgium will accept nothing less than a 3-goal margin win without conceding a goal against Canada. Still, Canada coach Herdman should be able to put together an effective game plan against Belgium. Canada’s second game against Croatia will, for the most part, be played at a high-intensity base on the prospects of advancing and/or elimination. It is at this juncture where, surprisingly, most coaches are willing to answer post-game questions about their team winning ugly. With all things considered, Croatia could be the toughest opponent Canada may face in the group based on their experience, physicality, and attention to detail. However, as an older team, there is no doubt that a Canada win over Croatia is more realistic than against Belgium solely because of Belgium’s offensive firepower. Another concern in the Croatia match is that Canada has not felt the pressure of an elimination match since the semi-final loss in overtime against Mexico at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the Croatia game will be a pressure cooker. That is not to say that Croatia will not be under pressure, irrespective of the result of their first match against Morocco, but it is a game that can change the fortunes of a team. Around the second game of the tournament, the cream rises, and goal differences and head-to-head tiebreakers become backbreakers. Canada’s third game against Morocco should be a dandy since it might be the last chance for either team to win and advance to the Round of 16. It could also be the last opportunity for each team to get off the mark in terms of scoring and/ or gaining points. Coach Herdman has proven to be one of the best in preparing his team, and it may be that he is anticipating gaining at least a point against Belgium and Croatia with hopes of posting a win against Morocco to advance to the Round of 16.
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