John Herdman: From Canadian Soccer Success to Toronto FC Leadership
John Herdman, a skilled coach hailing from England, has made a remarkable mark on Canadian soccer. Notably, he steered the Canadian men's team into their first World Cup appearance in 36 years, a significant achievement that garnered widespread attention. However, in a recent development, Herdman has chosen to step down from this position in order to embark on a new chapter of his career with Major League Soccer's Toronto FC, as reported by Canada Soccer on Monday.
At 48 years old, Herdman's impact on the Canadian soccer scene has been significant. He notably led Canada to the 2022 World Cup, a tournament that saw the team exit after three losses in the group stage. Prior to this, Herdman had demonstrated his coaching prowess by leading the Canadian women's team, securing bronze medals in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. This impressive track record underscores his valuable contributions to the Canadian soccer landscape.
Charmaine Crooks, the President of Canada Soccer, expressed admiration for Herdman's role in advancing the game within the country. She noted, "John's contribution to the game in Canada is unmatched," and extended gratitude for his substantial impact. Crooks conveyed well wishes for his new endeavor with Toronto FC, acknowledging the pivotal role he played in Canadian soccer.
Mauro Biello, who has been working as an assistant under Herdman since March 2018, will take on the role of interim head coach. This transitional period will involve collaboration between Herdman and Biello through September, ensuring a smooth shift in leadership.
Herdman's new role involves taking charge of Toronto FC, a team that had parted ways with its previous head coach, Bob Bradley, in June. Presently, the team occupies the bottom position in the Eastern Conference, having garnered 19 points from 26 games. Herdman expressed his excitement for this new challenge, highlighting the allure of working within a club environment, allowing for more in-depth player and staff interactions that facilitate holistic development.
Before his tenure with the Canadian men's team, Herdman had an impressive coaching background, having worked with the New Zealand women's national team. His impactful leadership was witnessed when he assumed responsibility for the Canadian women's team in 2011, guiding them to impressive third-place finishes in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.
In 2018, Herdman took on the role of rebuilding the Canadian men's team, a responsibility handed to him by Canada Soccer. Under his guidance, the team made significant strides by securing their second-ever World Cup qualification, having finished atop the CONCACAF qualifying group, ahead of stalwart teams like the United States and Mexico. Although the team didn't progress to the knockout stages, their performance was notable for the two goals scored and a confident, self-assured style of play that exuded a sense of belonging.
Looking ahead, the anticipation for the 2026 World Cup has never been higher, particularly since Canada is set to co-host the event with the United States and Mexico. In February, Herdman expressed his commitment to the journey, despite other potential offers, underscoring his dedication to the Canadian soccer mission.
While the details of Herdman's coaching role with Toronto FC are yet to be disclosed, the MLS club has emphasized his role as not only a coach but also a leader and a culture builder. Toronto FC President Bill Manning conveyed optimism about Herdman's positive influence, hopeful that he will replicate the success he had with Canada Soccer in his new capacity.
In essence, John Herdman's decision to transition from coaching the Canadian men's team to leading Toronto FC marks a significant shift in his career. His impressive coaching journey, characterized by achievements and successes, is a testament to his dedication and impact on the world of soccer.