TORONTO â€” The Canadian Soccer Association has no plans to hire a new high performance director in the wake of firing Tony Fonseca.
It appears Fonseca was the victim of a changing landscape at the national governing body.
The appointment last September of Jason deVos in the new position of director of development, combined with possible added responsibilities of the new national men’s team coach, is seen to cover the territory previously handled by a high performance director.
“We’re just looking at structuring the proper alignment on the men’s national team side,” said CSA secretary-general Peter Montopoli.
Montopoli says the plan is still to have a new men’s coach in place by this summer’s Gold Cup. And if things fall into place, the coach could come sooner.
“We’re down to a short list,” Montopoli said of the search.
Michael Findlay has been serving as interim coach since Benito Floro was let go last September in the wake of a failed World Cup qualifying campaign.
The process of interviewing coaching candidates helped prompt the association to “get a better fit and alignment and system” on the men’s side, according to Montopoli.
Montopoli said Fonseca leaves positives with the program, including a far better job of identifying talent.
“We’re not missing players any more,” he said.
Youth players have also got far more time in national team camps, according to Montopoli.
The CSA says 211 players took part in Canadian youth camps, from under-14 to under-23, in 2016. And 96 players took part in at least one youth international match last year.
“A lot of credit to Tony for starting this off in the right direction from our youth programming,” Montopoli said. “What needed to be done, we’ve done.”
Fonseca joined the CSA in 2006 on an interim basis as an assistant coach with the menâ€™s national team. Two years later he became a full-time staff coach looking after the menâ€™s under-20 and under-23 teams. He was named director of high performance for the men’s national team program in 2011 and technical director in 2012.
Fonseca’s job changed with deVos’ hiring last fall. He became director of high performance, with deVos handling coaching and the grassroots aspect of the organization.
Some of that extended into high performance. Still Fonseca’s departure came as a surprise to some observers.
He was deemed surplus to requirements after a varied career that saw him coach virtually every team on the men’s side of the CSA ledger â€” including the national team in 2013 after Stephen Hart stepped down as head coach.
In 2011 the CSA enthused about Fonseca in naming him high performance director.
“We are excited to have such an experienced authority in international soccer as both a player and coach enhance his current role with the Canadian Soccer Association in such an important portfolio,” Montopoli said in a statement at the time.
In the same release, Montopoli called Fonseca “one of the country’s top technical minds that will bring our game to the next level.”
Fonseca is a former Portuguese international who played for Benfica before moving to Canada in 1999 to join the Vancouver 86ers. After retiring as a player in 2000, he turned to coaching. He was head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2002 and became the club’s technical director in 2004.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press