John Herdman

February 28, 2018 by Speakers' Spotlight

Fresh Vision For Canada’s Men’s Soccer Team

In January 2018, John Herdman made history when he transitioned from his role as Head Coach of the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team to leading the Men’s Soccer Team ― the first person to ever have led both line-ups. Heavily decorated, Herdman and the women’s team won the CONCACAF Outstanding Performance Award and, in 2017, Herdman won the Jack Donohue Coach of the Year Award.

Now he’s set his sights on the future. Speaking at BMO field this week, he gave an outline of where he was taking his new squad. From

“The talent is there, but what has been missing is a clear vision that binds together in key moments; the high performance systems and structures of the modern game – sport science, mental performance training,” said Herdman. “In those big moments, they haven’t been able to deliver, (and) the culture has been to point fingers. That’s ready to change. The group are clear under new leadership with new focus, that if they can see a plan they believe in, they will push to levels they’ve never gone to before.”

Sights are set at World Cup qualification:

Just qualifying for a World Cup would be viewed as a success in his new role; For the men’s national team, the question always lurking in the background is why haven’t they reached the tournament since Mexico ’86.

“There hasn’t been a deliberate approach to mental performance,” Herdman said. “While they may have physically and technically the gifts to perform, on the mental side, on the big occasions, they haven’t been able to deliver. Addressing that is the starting point. In the first camp, [the players] will notice the shifts, how it’s inculcated into the whole culture.”

To that end, the introduction of the new CONCACAF League of Nations this fall will be welcome.

“Coming September, every match is going to have expectation, scrutiny, consequence,” Herdman said. “Gone are the days of meaningless friendlies. … 42 matches in a three-and-a-half year period; 90 percent in this part of the world. This team will have to be ready to think clearly under pressure constantly.”