Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stir crazy

Maybe I've gone a bit loopy because I've had almost a full month to dwell on Canada's painful results against Jamaica, Honduras, and Mexico in September and August. Or maybe school's been dragging me down and the only outlet I'm able to find is ridiculous theories about Canada's bleak situation. Or maybe I was always crazy to begin with.

Whatever the reason, I've been having some weird thoughts lately. For the first time in some time I find myself nodding in agreement (nodding being the milder form of reaction: blissful agreement results in fist-pumping and other behaviours that aren't appropriate in an open area lab) with the pony-tailed impresario, Ben Knight.

To wit, from a blog post titled It's time for Mitchell to go:

Why is Dale Mitchell running this team, and how can he be convinced not to?

Mitchell, of course, had to watch an entire year go by while the Canadian Soccer Association dithered and withered over who the next head coach of Canada would be. He was finally given the job – it fell dead in his lap when all the shooting stopped – just before he led Canada's youth team to possibly the worst performance in the history of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup: no goals in three matches. Three HOME matches.

In the meantime, solid servant and interim coach Stephen Hart guided Canada to some gong-ringing success at the 2007 Gold Cup. The Canadians were daring and creative, riding inspired, high-octane midfield play from Dwayne de Rosario and Julian de Guzman. But for one horrid and lamented refereeing decision, they looked bound for the final.

Despite all that, Mitchell was promoted. It's time to reverse that mistake.

Note that the bizarre numerical formatting weirdness is not my fault, it's the Globe's.

My agreement stops when Ben implies that Stephen Hart is the man for the job. Why not? I have my reasons, but that's not what I care about right now, and frankly Hart for MNT coach isn't quite nutty enough.

I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel on Mitchell. On the other hand, I've pretty much resigned myself to tossing linens over the qualifying campaign itself. A win in Honduras a week from Saturday would change things, but I don't want to get my hopes up for fear of having them dashed. (Norm Macdonald did a great bit on Leno on how you never hear of the word 'dashed' without 'hope'. I can't find the video. If you can, share the wealth). It really makes no difference to me if Mitchell finishes it out.

But what about John Limniatis for MNT manager? Fucking crazy, right? After all, this nutbag went apeshit in Seattle after supporters had been hard on him and the Impact all game. But he wins games.
Can you imagine this mugshot on the international newswire after he punches out some piss-throwing Honduran scum?

In case you've been too busy being miserable about Canada, or have been turned off of soccer entirely by watching too many Toronto FC games, I'll let you in on a little secret: the Montreal Impact is the best soccer team in Canada and one of the best north of the Rio Grande. And they have been since Limno took over.

I don't think the Impact would be keen to let him go, and there are probably better options for MNT coach as well. But he's got the right attitude, he wins, and one other thing: he wins!

While I'm throwing out stupid ideas, with Dwayne de Rosario out for the next match, why not try the two best North American-based midfielders not currently in the Canada set up: Will Johnson and Sandro Grande. Johnson has been a fixture in the Real Salt Lake lineup since leaving Holland, while Grande played one of the best matches I've seen by a Canadian midfielder for the Impact last week against Atlante.

By the way, the Impact, who lead their group in the Concacaf Champions League, play again tomorrow in Honduras, of all places. The game will be live on CBCsports.ca; the usual tape-delay bullshit applies for regular TV.

Please tell me I'm not crazy.


A lineup should be coming out in the next few days for the next two WCQ matches. No Serioux or De Ro. A comment on the latter: he has been crap so far in WCQ. I wouldn't be surprised if whoever replaces Dwayne in the lineup turns a few heads and provides a spark. Crazy, I know.


Footie Fool said...

My learned soccer friend, either you need to up your meds, or I need to catch and Impact game. I think you might have convinced me of the later.

Jamie said...

Before the Jamaica match, I was quoting Alexander Pope's "hope springs eternal"... but like any good Canadian footie fan, I realised and admitted in the same post that "Hope can burp ephemeral". I admit that Norm McDonald's take on hopes being dashed is a better soundbite... but my hope for WC2010 really did feel like a burp.

Hart btw, would incure just as much of a lashing by media and fans when his would-be team falters.

The best idea I've read for our football program was penned by the Star's Cathal Kelly about 10 months ago when he suggested we mirror Australia by both dismantling the regionalism of the CSA and hire an MNT coach from outside the border.

Great blog btw!

Headhunting Canuck said...

Well J,

You are right that Montreal Impact is the best Canadian soccer out there right now. They just have the proper management in place from doing it for years, and a wonderful coach. Though I still don't want to see him coach the Canadian squad.

Dale Mitchell has been a problem from the get go, I remember watching the Canadian squad at the U21's and pulling my hair out when they hired him. Anyways, personally I always figured they would go outside the box and get a connection from a nation that has a history of good coaches, Brazil and Holland come to mind. Until they let some outside influence coach the team, the team is going to get nowhere and that's just because other countries are way ahead of us in terms of developing quality coaches.

One word of note J, and others, I'm thinking of trying a new form of blogging next time around, which will allow for instant viewer comments and would allow for both J and I to call the game. Not sure if you are up for it J, but I did find a program that might do that for us.


J said...

Sure thing Canuck, your newfangled technology sounds swell.

Regarding Mitchell, I didn't write him off on the basis of being a Canadian or having had a poor run with the U20s. Coaching men isn't the same as coaching youth. I have to give him credit for somehow managing to bring together all the best players for once, although Stephen Hart got that all started in 2007.

Now that WCQ is more or less over for us, I don't see the point in bringing in an expensive foreign coach. I'd rather save money over the next 2-3 years and hire a bona fide international coach a year or two in advance of the next qualifying run (say in early 2011).

It sure is bleak these days being a Canadian soccer fan. On the bright side, Montreal is tied 1-1 at the half in Honduras. Maybe an Impact win will set the table for a similar effort from the national team in a week's time.