John Herdman, who led the Canada’s women’s soccer team to back-to-back Olympic bronze medals, is taking over the Canadian men’s program.
He replaces the fired Octavio Zambrano, who was named head coach of the Canadian men’s national team program last March. Herdman’s new title is national team head coach and men’s EXCEL director.
The surprise announcement came Monday evening.
“It was an organizational decision. Octavio’s departed Canada Soccer effective immediately,” Canadian Soccer Association president Steve Reed said in an interview.
Reed denied that any specific incident had triggered Zambrano’s sudden departure.
“We’re looking at long-term, what we felt was necessary in terms of the development of our programs on the men’s side,” he added. “And we wanted to build that long-term alignment much like we’ve experienced on the women’s side.
“When we did that organizational review, we determined that John Herdman was the right person to lead that.”
Heiner-Moller takes over women’s team
Former assistant coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller takes over the Canadian women. Coach of the Danish women’s team from 2006 to 2013, the Dane was a part of Herdman’s coaching team at the Rio Olympics as a part-time assistant before moving to Canada to be a full-time member of his staff.
Heiner-Moller’s title will be national team head coach and women’s EXCEL (developmental) director.
The Canadian men are currently ranked 94th in the world while the women are No. 5.
‘I’m a builder’
The 42-year-old Herdman took charge of the Canadian women in August 2011. He succeeded Italy’s Carolina Morace after a last-place finish at the 2011 World Cup in Germany.
The women’s program was in a dark place. Gradually the charismatic Herdman built it back up while developing a pipeline of young talent.
The English native took Canada to a record-high fourth in the world rankings after winning bronze at the 2016 Olympics, cracking the top five for the first time.
Herdman had been linked in some circles to the vacant English women’s coaching job but he wanted to keep his family in Canada.
He had recently talked of a move back to the men’s side of the game but not until the 2020 Olympics. It appears that the men’s opening came sooner than expected.
“I’ve done seven years with the [women’s] team,” Herdman said in an interview Monday. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it with the group.
“But I’m a builder, I’m a developer. With Canada Soccer and the rest of the crew we sort of built that program back up from scratch, built the high-performance system, built the talent development system, brought the right people in.”
“I just feel the [women’s] team is there now. They’ve got the players,” he added. “They’ve got the players to be successful and that’s often the hardest thing to do.”
Herdman previously served as head coach of New Zealand’s women’s team and national director of football development.
Huge challenge awaits
The 59-year-old Zambrano, a well-travelled coach from Ecuador, previously coached club sides in Colombia, Ecuador, Hungary and Moldova as well as the Los Angeles Galaxy and MetroStars in the early days of Major League Soccer.
His record at the Canadian helm was 3-2-2.
The Canadian men were ranked No. 117th in the world when Zambrano was hired by Victor Montagliani, currently president of CONCACAF.
While Herdman has inherited a huge challenge in the men’s team, whose lone World Cup qualification was in 1986, there are positive signs. Plans are under way for a domestic league in the form of the Canadian Premier League and Canada is part of a joint 2026 World Cup bid with the U.S. and Mexico.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Herdman. “It really is an exciting time for the men’s game and I think that’s where hopefully my skill sets come in as a strategic thinker, a person detailed with planning who can look towards 2026 but also keep one eye on 2022 — which is what I’ve been doing with the women’s side — synthesizing a football system to get the best out of it … and then driving the changes through, getting the right people around the team to make the changes.”
Herdman will be in charge of the senior men’s team and all national youth sides from the under-14 level.
In other moves, Bev Priestman will serve as women’s national EXCEL director (U15 to U23) and as assistant coach to Heiner-Moller.
‘Coaching is my passion’
Last November, Herdman was awarded the Jack Donohue Coach of the Year Award by the Coaching Association of Canada.
“Coaching is my passion,” Herdman said in 2011 when he was hired by the Canadian Soccer Association. “It’s what I get out of bed for every day and this is an opportunity to do something special.”
Herdman grew up playing soccer, describing himself as an “OK” central midfielder. He went on to play semi-professional football in the Northern League and for his university.
Knowing a pro career was not in the cards, he started to take coaching courses at 16. He had his own soccer school at 23 and then spent three years at the Sunderland academy where he worked with a young Jordan Henderson, now a Liverpool star.
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Edmonton Alberta News Headlines
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Edmonton /ˈɛdməntən/ (About this sound listen) is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta’s central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the “Calgary–Edmonton Corridor”.
The city had a population of 932,546 in 2016, making it Alberta’s second-largest city and Canada’s fifth-largest municipality. Also in 2016, Edmonton had a metropolitan population of 1,321,426, making it the sixth-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada. Edmonton is North America’s northernmost city that has a metropolitan population over one million. A resident of Edmonton is known as an Edmontonian.
Edmonton’s historic growth has been facilitated through the absorption of five adjacent urban municipalities (Strathcona, North Edmonton, West Edmonton, Beverly and Jasper Place) and a series of annexations ending in 1982.[ Known as the “Gateway to the North”, the city is a staging point for large-scale oil sands projects occurring in northern Alberta and large-scale diamond mining operations in the Northwest Territories.
Edmonton is a cultural, governmental and educational centre. It hosts a year-round slate of festivals, reflected in the nickname “Canada’s Festival City”. It is home to North America’s largest mall, West Edmonton Mall (the world’s largest mall from 1981 until 2004), and Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history museum.
Further information: History of Edmonton and Timeline of Edmonton history
The earliest known inhabitants settled in the area that is now Edmonton around 3,000 BC and perhaps as early as 12,000 BC, when an ice-free corridor opened as the last glacial period ended and timber, water, and wildlife became available in the region.
In 1754, Anthony Henday, an explorer for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), may have been the first European to enter the Edmonton area. His expeditions across the Canadian Prairies were mainly to seek contact with the aboriginal population for establishing the fur trade, as competition was fierce between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company. By 1795, Fort Edmonton was established on the river’s north bank as a major trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The new fort’s name was suggested by John Peter Pruden after Edmonton, London, the home town of both the HBC deputy governor Sir James Winter Lake, and Pruden.
In 1876, Treaty 6, which includes what is now Edmonton, was signed between the Aboriginal peoples in Canada (or First Nations) and Queen Victoria as Queen of Canada, as part of the Numbered Treaties of Canada. The agreement includes the Plains and Woods Cree, Assiniboine, and other band governments of First Nations at Fort Carlton, Fort Pitt and Battle River. The area covered by the treaty represents most of the central area of the current provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to southern Alberta in 1885 helped the Edmonton economy, and the 1891 building of the Calgary and Edmonton (C&E) Railway resulted in the emergence of a railway townsite (South Edmonton/Strathcona) on the river’s south side, across from Edmonton. The arrival of the CPR and the C&E Railway helped bring settlers and entrepreneurs from eastern Canada, Europe, U.S. and other parts of the world. The Edmonton area’s fertile soil and cheap land attracted settlers, further establishing Edmonton as a major regional commercial and agricultural centre. Some people participating in the Klondike Gold Rush passed through South Edmonton/Strathcona in 1897. Strathcona was North America’s northernmost railway point, but travel to the Klondike was still very difficult for the “Klondikers”, and a majority of them took a steamship north to the Yukon from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Jasper Avenue, ca. 1907
Incorporated as a town in 1892 with a population of 700 and then as a city in 1904 with a population of 8,350, Edmonton became the capital of Alberta when the province was formed a year later, on September 1, 1905. In November 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNR) arrived in Edmonton, accelerating growth.
During the early 1900s, Edmonton’s rapid growth led to speculation in real estate. In 1912, Edmonton amalgamated with the City of Strathcona, south of the North Saskatchewan River; as a result, the city extended south of the North Saskatchewan River for the first time.
Just prior to World War I, the boom ended, and the city’s population declined from more than 72,000 in 1914 to less than 54,000 only two years later. Many impoverished families moved to subsistence farms outside the city, while others fled to greener pastures in other provinces. Recruitment to the Canadian army during the war also contributed to the drop in population. Afterwards, the city slowly recovered in population and economy during the 1920s and 1930s and took off again during and after World War II.
The Edmonton City Centre Airport opened in 1929, becoming Canada’s first licensed airfield.Originally named Blatchford Field in honour of former mayor Kenny Blatchford, pioneering aviators such as Wilfrid R. “Wop” May and Max Ward used Blatchford Field as a major base for distributing mail, food, and medicine to Northern Canada; hence Edmonton’s emergence as the “Gateway to the North”. World War II saw Edmonton become a major base for the construction of the Alaska Highway and the Northwest Staging Route.
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