The Canadian Soccer Association has not had a technical director since 2009 when Stephen Hart took over as the head coach of the senior men's national team. Hart resigned that position last month after three years in the job during which he never had a technical director to work with. That vacancy is finally going to be filled on Tuesday afternoon when the CSA announces who they found to serve as the new technical director.
The search to fill the position began back in the summer when the CSA posted the job for interested applicants to apply. It has been three and a half months since that posting went up and now it seems that they are set to go with an internal candidate. According to a number of folks on twitter it seems that one of Hart's former assistants and the current U23 Men's coach, Tony Fonseca, is set to be unveiled in the position.
#CSA will announce Tony Fonseca as technical director on Tuesday. They've been without a TD since Hart took the coaching job in '09.— Marc Weber (@ProvinceWeber) November 5, 2012
Fonseca certainly fits the bill of someone who has been around the game, knows the CONCACAF region, and has good connections with the professional clubs. He is a former professional player who spent much of his career as a defender in Portugal playing for clubs like Benfica and Vitória Guimarães before moving to the Vancouver Whitecaps to wind down his playing days and become a member of their coaching staff. He would eventually become the manager of the 'Caps USL team from 2002-2004 before eventually moving on to join the coaching ranks with the national team.
The best thing about the move is less about who has been hired for the position and more about the fact that it has actually been filled. The fact that the CSA went without a technical director for 3 years was a source of much justified criticism and filling the position was a key part in the reform process. Having a TD in place is by no means going to usher in a new age of success for the nation but it is another important step towards developing more competitive teams on both the men's and women's side. The more people we have working on a full time basis to try and improve soccer at the highest level in the country the better.
The downside of the move to appoint Fonseca is that the CSA ended up hiring from in house. Many, myself included, felt that this opening would be a chance to bring in someone with an outside perspective who could help to address some of the concerns and bring new blood to the higher ranks of Canada's governing body. Fonseca does not quite do that but his perspective will be new at this level. Having served in the coaching ranks already he will be familiar to many in the CSA, but it is not like he was part of the decision making process before. He does fit the description of what the CSA were looking for in their job posting in that Fonseca has "extensive experience in, and knowledge of, soccer at the domestic and international levels, both amateur and professional, with proven coaching and scouting experience, and a demonstrated record as a sports educator." With that description in mind, Fonseca actually stands out as one of the best choices for hiring within the Canadian ranks.
So now that Canada has a new TD in place just what is his job going to be? Is it up to the TD to go out and find a new head coach for the men's team? Do they have to address the issues that played a role in Canada crashing out of World Cup qualifiying? Will he have a big role to play in Canada hosting the 2015 Women's World Cup, and setting the women's team up to be as competitive as possible in that tournament? Well, looking back at the job posting again we can see that the CSA expects the technical director to be "responsible for the overall management and direction of the technical growth and development of soccer in Canada, including player and coach development/education, the youth, para, beach and futsal national teams programs, and for technical-related organization within the Canadian Soccer Association."
Based on that description, Tony Fonseca has a massive job in front of him. That is a lot of things to try and look after and the simple fact is that fans around the country are going to be expecting big things from him. It is a job that is almost entirely done behind the scenes but involves having a role in almost everything the CSA does, meaning that if things do not show rapid improvement people might be eager to blame the new technical director for not doing a good job. In response to that I will leave you with a tweet from Jason DeVos that basically sums up my feelings perfectly:
Don’t expect Tony Fonseca to wave a magic wand and fix Canadian soccer overnight. Get involved and help the man evoke change!— Jason deVos (@jasondevos) November 5, 2012