Canada Soccer creates new U-23 director position for Biello to fill By Steven Sandor Posted on February 26, 2018 4 0 797 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Mauro Biello PHOTO: CIMON PARENT/CANADA SOCCER If you’re here to look for more dirt on the dismissal of former men’s national team coach Octavio Zambrano, if you’re here looking for specifics about certain players in the men’s national-team program, well, you’re going to be disappointed. On Monday, new men’s national-team coach John Herdman and his newly hired assistant, Mauro Biello, were talking about systems and structure. Biello, the former head coach of the Montreal Impact and holder of four men’s national-team caps, is also the new director of the men’s EXCEL U-23 program. It’s a newly created position which basically puts Biello in charge of Canadian soccer youth development. This system is far different than Zambrano’s vision — where he would have controlled all aspects of the senior and youth programs. Herdman said the new EXCEL U-23 director position had to be created because “the infrastructure needs to match the strategy to move the game forward here.” The men’s youth teams in Canada didn’t do much in terms of holding camps during Zambrano’s brief stay as the men’s coach, a stay which was brought to an abrupt end early in 2018. His end came right before an U-23 camp in January. Biello said that, to get the program back on track, “we have prioritized certain things in the short term” and that “I’m ready to execute whatever John is ready to put forward for me.” Herdman said that the decision to hire Biello came down to the fact that he wanted not only a coach, but a leader. “I am ready to give back to the game which has given me so much over the last 25 years,” said Biello. But what will this new job entail, other than the stewardship of the youth national teams? With the Canadian Premier League on the horizon, and three Canadian MLS teams (and academies) in place, Herdman said that the national program needs to have people in clear and defined roles. He said there has to be point people for MLS clubs and CanPL clubs to talk to about the development of players. Basically, Herdman said it has to be clear that “all roads end up leading to the men’s national team.” And he suggested that the Canadian soccer program has to be more proactive in dealing with clubs. If a Canadian is developing and not getting minutes, he said there needs to be a dialogue about “when the player potentially needs to move on.” Herdman said there needs to be alignment amongst the pro teams when it comes to the needs to the Canadian program and its players. He also spoke about the need to “advocate” for Canadian players, about suggesting to clubs when a player has indeed “graduated” from the academy level and needs pro minutes… somewhere. Of course, that brings in the debate about the clubs’ interests vs. what a national program wants them to do. On the Canadian Premier League side, it’s easy to see how that moral imperative works. Do what’s best for the Canadian program. Easy. But when it comes to MLS — which is, by all intents and purposes, an American first-division league with a minority of Canadian teams — or other foreign leagues, what’s good for the Canadian national program doesn’t always come ahead of wins and losses… and asset management. But, at least we have something resembling a vision from Canada Soccer, after several months of waiting for Zambrano’s plan to be unveiled, then ultimately rejected.