Canadian soccer's newly appointed technical director knows what he is getting into.
As assistant coach with the men's national team, Tony Fonseca literally had a front-row seat on Canada's humiliating exit from World Cup qualifying last month in Honduras. The former Portuguese international has also coached Canada's under-20, under-23, and Francophone Games teams.
Fonseca's new job is essentially to chart the course of Canadian soccer, "in charge of setting a vision for all aspects of the game," according to the Canadian Soccer Association.
That includes educating coaches and developing players, from pre-teens to elite players.
There have been no shortage of good intentions and blueprints in the past in the CSA, but Canadian soccer has little to show for it outside of high participation numbers and a competitive women's side.
The 47-year-old Fonseca acknowledged there is much to do, including trying to bring together what is widely perceived to be a fractured soccer landscape.
"This is not just one layer of the problem," he told a conference call Tuesday. "There's many layers but definitely we want to continue to work with the provinces, with the stakeholders, the pro clubs and the academies, and definitely find the solutions needed to forward the game in Canada."
The CSA still has to appoint a men's national team coach in the wake of Stephen Hart's resignation last month.
The two jobs are very different. The technical director looks down the road while the national team coach is only as good as his last result.
Early feedback on the choice of Fonseca was positive.
"Fantastic appointment," Paul Mariner, Toronto FC's director of soccer operations, said by email from a European scouting trip.
"A good guy," said Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. "And having come up through the Portuguese system and being a part of Benfica, I think he has a pretty good idea of what it takes to develop players."
"A very conscientious football mind," said Bjorn Osieck, the outgoing executive director of the B.C. Soccer Association. "Somebody who is not afraid to point out inconvenient truths, but does it in a way not to alienate people."
The post of technical director has been vacant since Hart left it to take over as national team coach in December 2009. Hart, who became technical director in March 2008, stepped down last month as coach in the wake of the 8-1 loss in Honduras.
The Vancouver-based Fonseca hinted that Hart could still play a role, saying it would be a shame not to use his experience.
Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the CSA, said the job of technical director was handled by committee prior to Fonseca's appointment.
"We believe as an organization that Tony has the knowledge and experience to have an immediate impact on the development of the sport in our country," he said.
© Copyright 2013