skip navigation

Canada Soccer successfully integrates Men’s EXCEL Program across Canadian MLS academies

By Staff, 02/02/19, 11:15AM EST


Week by week, Canada Soccer worked hand-in-hand with Major League Soccer clubs Montréal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps from 14 January through 1 February.

Play. Inspire. Unite. 

Canada Soccer led the alignment of the international and professional game through three weeks of Men’s EXCEL programming in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver. The new program allowed Canada Soccer to share tactical ID and team culture concepts while also assessing player development for future EXCEL activity as player progress to the Men’s National Team.

“This is definitely a first for our country and possibly world-wide and I applaud the MLS clubs for opening their doors to embrace the opportunity,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach and Men’s EXCEL Program Director. “Their openness and support is sending a message to our country that it’s possible to unite our game at all levels for the purpose of improving development opportunities for our players.

“It’s all about creating a synergy so that we can be the best in Concacaf. There are not many clubs around the world that would let international teams come in and take over their coaching environment for a full week, but that’s what we can do differently in Canada and the could be our x-factor within Concacaf.”

Week by week, Canada Soccer worked hand-in-hand with Major League Soccer clubs Montréal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps from 14 January through 1 February. 

“The concept of pro-club integration within the EXCEL Program is new. There are gaps we wanted to close in how we work with the professional clubs in Canada, such as formalising the monitoring and tracking systems, periodisation of competition programs, and the alignment of calendars. These are elements that are basic corner stones of elite-player programming in successful soccer countries world wide.

“What we wanted to do here, however, is different. We wanted to take the relationship to the next level, fully integrating with those clubs that are helping our most talented players progress to the next level of performance. Being on the ground, working with the players and coaches in their own environments, evaluating a wider base of players has its benefits, but the real gold is the interactions that take place, the sharing of organisational knowledge, philosophy and developing a deeper understanding of each other’s context and realities. We are creating genuine partnerships, working together both on and off the field to help our players elevate to the highest levels of performance.”

The program ensures MLS academies, their coaches, staff, and players work with Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team coaches, understand the National EXCEL philosophy, and the way that Canada play. For Canada Soccer, the program lets National Team coaches understand how MLS academies operate and the conditions in which they work.

The project featured Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver’s U-15 and U-17 teams. The project was led by Canada Soccer’s Men’s EXCEL U-14 to U-17 Program Director Andrew Olivieri and Men’s Regional EXCEL Program Director Joey Lombardi. Other Canada Soccer coaches and staff also took part in the program, including Men’s National Team Head Coach John Herdman and Men’s National Team Assistant Coach Mauro Biello.

Canada Soccer’s Men’s EXCEL Program channels our nation’s exceptional players into the best soccer environments. The Canada Soccer Pathway works in collaboration with our provincial and territory partners as well as the professional clubs and academies. For Canada’s elite players, the program emphasizes player development on the pathway to representing Canada’s Men’s National Team in international soccer.