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Herdman stepping down as Canada head coach to take Toronto FC job


John Herdman is leaving one mess to clean up another.

Canada Soccer confirmed Monday that Herdman, who split time as head coach of the country's men's and women's teams over the last 12 years, is stepping down to take the reins at Toronto FC.

TFC said Herdman will begin work with the club Oct. 1. Until then, he'll work with Canada Soccer and his interim replacement, Mauro Biello, to ensure a seamless transition.

"I am keen to start this new opportunity with Toronto FC," Herdman said. "Personally, it's the right time for me to step into a new challenge in my career, and the structure of a club environment is a context I've aspired to operate in. Having access to connect and collaborate with the staff and players daily allows for a different depth of development and connection, both on and off the pitch.

"To continue my coaching journey in a Canadian city that I know well, playing at BMO Field - a stadium where I've experienced some of my favourite sporting moments, with incredible fans - is quite amazing."

Canada Soccer president Charmaine Crooks praised Herdman for his "unmatched" contribution to the game in the country. The 48-year-old won two Olympic bronze medals with the women before leading the men to their first World Cup in 36 years.

The 48-year-old's decision to leave Canada Soccer comes at a delicate time for the program. Since Nick Bontis resigned in disgrace as president of Canada Soccer, players for the men's and women's teams have accused the federation of withholding pay and information about a financially detrimental deal Canada Soccer made with a private company that traded away all future sponsorship money for a relatively small annual lump sum of around $3 million.

Canada's Men's National Soccer Team Players' Association claimed Aug. 18 that the players still haven't received any compensation for their participation in the 2022 World Cup. It also sent cease-and-desist letters to national team sponsors demanding they discontinue the illegal use of their image and likeness.

Herdman kept the players together even as they fought their own federation. In June, Canada came close to winning its first major competition since 2000, falling to the United States in the CONCACAF Nations League final.

However, Herdman decided to leave because of Canada Soccer's financial instability and a growing divide in the dressing room, sources told The Athletic's Joshua Kloke.

He finds Toronto FC in a similar predicament. The Reds are dead last in the Eastern Conference with a 3-10-13 record and a league-worst minus-18 goal differential.

Recent reports of a training-ground spat between star player Lorenzo Insigne and interim coach Terry Dunfield fueled speculation of a dressing-room rift. Dunfield stepped in to replace Bob Bradley when TFC fired him in June.

"There's work to be done, and we recognize that transformational change takes time," Herdman added. "We understand what it will take to make a difference, and I am committed to getting this city and club where it belongs."

If Toronto FC are eliminated as expected from postseason contention, Herdman will only have time to coach three MLS matches before the season ends. TFC travel to Charlotte FC on Oct. 4, face the New York Red Bulls three days later, and finish the campaign at home against Orlando City on Oct. 21.

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