Analysis: John Herdman Leaves the CanMNT for Toronto FC

Soccer: FIFA World Cup Qualifier-Jamaica at Canada with John Herdman the CanMNT Qualifies for the FIFA World Cup

John Herdman, who has coached the CanMNT since 2018, and has more than a decade of coaching Canadian national teams, starting with the CanWNT, will officially leave in October He now takes the role of head coach of Toronto FC, the richest Canadian club soccer team in the country (source: Statista of MLS). This story was first reported by Joshua Kloke of The Athletic.

He has developed quite a resume, taking teams that were struggling as seen with both the CanWNT and the CanMNT. With the Canadian women’s national team, they finished last without a point in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Shortly afterward, Herdman became the head coach and helped the Canadians earn a bronze medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

There is also of course the story with the Canadian men’s soccer team, where he took them from a team unlikely to compete to qualify for FIFA World Cups into one of the top nations in Concacaf. Additionally, at one point, Canada might have been considered the top of Concacaf with their fantastic FIFA World Cup qualifying run.

John Herdman: Leaves the Canadian Men’s National Team for Toronto FC Head Coaching Role

What This Means for the CanMNT

For the CanMNT, there are no easy answers. The national team has financial constraints, so it is unlikely they hire a head coach of high stature. There are reasons to want to coach for Canada though, especially the allure of playing in a host FIFA World Cup in 2026.

As of right now, Mauro Biello will replace Herdman and will be the interim head coach of Canada. This also gives Biello the perfect opportunity to become the permanent head coach for Canada. He has coached the Canada U-20 since 2022.

Biello is most known though for his time with the Montreal Impact (now called CF Montreal). He was a player there for many years in the second division of U.S. Soccer for Montreal. He also started his playing career with the Montreal Supra of the Canadian Soccer League, which was a professional first-tier division soccer league in the country.

Herdman’s Legacy With the Canadian National Teams

There is no doubt that Herdman has a legacy with both national teams. He has won two bronze medals with the CanWNT and is only the second head coach to help Canada qualify for the FIFA World Cup. To add to that, Herdman was the head coach in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada and also was in the 2023 Concacaf Nations League Final. It was Canada’s first final in 23 years in a Concacaf-related competition, with the last time being the 2000 Concacaf Gold Cup.

READ MORE: John Herdman: How He Took the CanMNT to the FIFA World Cup

This is what Canada Soccer Association president, Charmaine Crooks, said about Herdman in a Canada Soccer press release:

“John Herdman is the most successful head coach in the history of Canada Soccer. From leading the Women’s National Team to back-to-back Olympic bronze medals, paving the way for their gold medal in 2020, and leading the Men’s National Team back to the FIFA World Cup, John’s contribution to the game in Canada is unmatched,” said Charmaine Crooks, President, Canada Soccer. “We would like to thank John for his immense contribution to the game in Canada and wish him the very best in his new role at Toronto FC.”

This will be Herdman’s first official head coaching job with a professional club team Toronto FC.

John Herdman: What He Brings for Toronto FC

Herdman will be taking on a head coaching job for TFC. As of right now, TFC can be considered the worst team in the league at this point. Toronto FC has the same number of points as the Colorado Rapids, but the Rapids has also played two fewer games than TFC.

READ MORE: John Herdman: His Impact With the CanWNT

What Toronto fans may not know though is that Herdman is probably relishing the challenge. This is what Herdman revealed last year on taking the reigns of the CanWNT back in 2011, who just finished with their worst-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup result. A person approached Herdman and said this (source: Stephen Brunt of Sporstnet):

“This is the most toxic team you are ever going to work with. Good luck.” Herdman said, “And I thought wow what an opportunity this is.”

Less than a year later, he took the women’s national team to their first-ever bronze medal in 2012.

There was also a mock newspaper with Canada qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, which Richie Laryea confirmed on Andi Petrillo’s show on CBC Sports. So, the situation with TFC will probably not faze Herdman, but will most likely motivate him. This is what Sinclair said about Herdman (source: Yahoo Sports):

“There’s a lot of the same players but [John] has completely changed our team and completely changed each individual player,” said Sinclair. “And with him as our head coach, anything is possible.”

This is also what TFC and CanMNT midfielder, Jonathan Osorio, said about Herdman (source: TSN, link is from Chris Smith from 90MIN)

“He told us the goal in that very first meeting — which was to qualify for the World Cup. He said it then and there,” Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio said of Herdman (via TSN).

The CanMNT would achieve that, making the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 36 years. Additionally, Herdman has plenty of experience at BMO Field with both the Canadian national soccer teams, so he knows what to expect when living and training in Toronto.

READ MORE: Bob Bradley Is Out: What It Means for Toronto FC?

John Herdman: His Experience With Club Soccer

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Herdman does not have much coaching experience in club soccer. He was a youth coach for Sunderland many years ago (source: Josh Fordham of Talk Sport). However, this is a different level of head coaching as he will be leading a professional club team for the first time in his career. In a press release given by Canada Soccer, this is what Herdman said about leaving the Canada Soccer program:

“I arrived from New Zealand in 2011 with the aim of changing the game in our country, and I have been able to form many deep connections, through experiences in London 2012, a home World Cup in 2015, Rio 2016, World Cup qualification in 2022 and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The goal was always to leave the game in a better place and I’m confident that goal has been achieved for Canada.”

It is important to note that Herdman will still be the head coach of the Canadian men’s soccer team until October when he will take over the reins as TFC head coach. Also, maybe this was not a surprise as there rumours in the past, including Herdman being linked to head coach New Zealand earlier this year.

Note: For fans who want to know more about Herdman, there are two links. The first one is his childhood and influence with the women’s national team and the second article is on how he got the CanMNT to the FIFA World Cup in 2022, can be seen in the links above.


Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports, of a John Herdman Headshot, on March 27, 2022.


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