Miller Hiring Makes Sense Over Nelsen

Although TFC and CanMNT both announced coaching decisions, the latter will aid Canadian soccer
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, January 10, 2013

Made in Canada - coverage of the Canadian MLS, NASL & USL Clubs, CSL, PCSL, Canadian Championship & Canada National Teams

It has not even been two weeks into the new year and already there is plenty of news on the Canadian soccer scene.

To sum up, Canada hired FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller as interim head coach effective immediately, and Toronto FC hired Queens Park Rangers player and former D.C. United captain Ryan Nelsen to take over as head coach sometime between now and June.

First thing’s first – I actually like the idea of having Nelsen as the head coach. In spite of his lack of coaching licenses, he seems to be a guy who can instill a winning culture in the team, something it hasn’t had very often.

However, there’s the risk of not having him before June. And placing a Division III college coach as second in command is making a mockery of the fans. They have endured so much from this front office, and asking them for this kind of patience again is ridiculous.

If Mariner was going to go no matter what, TFC President Kevin Payne should have fired him after last season, put an interim coach in place and have waited with the Nelsen announcement until the club actually knew when they would have him. I think the fans would have understood, more so than this bizarre set-up, where the message that comes out in the end this that QPR is more important than Toronto FC.

But I will applaud CSA President Victor Montagliani and technical director Tony Fonseca for the interim hiring of FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller. Rather than rushing out to get a head coach, they are going to be patient in order to get the best coach possible and, until then, Miller will be in charge.

To me this is a stroke of genius. No matter the coach, the six months will have little to no impact on the team. When it comes to long-term strategy the coach is not important. He (or she) is responsible for the short and medium term, but it is the president and the technical director that sets the foundation for what Canada is to be as a soccer nation in the long run.

It will be how Fonseca manages to reform the Canadian developmental system, more-so than who Fonseca hires as a national team coach, that will push Canada to the next level in the soccer world. And for this, I think it is good having a guy that on one side has won a title as a player with Benfica and played at a high-level in Europe, but also has hands-on Canadian experience with the Whitecaps and the CSA.

And by hiring Miller, even temporarily, Fonseca and Montagliani are also giving a Canadian coach a chance to develop his skills at a higher level, which will not only benefit the players at FC Edmonton, but also improve Miller's chances at taking another step up on the coaching ladder.

Fans of the Canadian national team and fans of Toronto FC have had to deal with a lot of adversity, but at least the Canada fans can comfort themselves with the fact that the CSA for once seem to be doing things right.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.