TORONTO -- Dale Mitchell was fired Friday as the national soccer coach of Canada, which has not played in the World Cup since 1986.
Mitchell was hired in May 2007 and his team failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Canada finished last in its regional semifinal group, with four losses and two ties.
Mitchell's contract runs through 2010. The decision to dismiss was made last weekend by the association's board of directors.
"We have made this decision to move the program in a new direction," Canadian Soccer Association president Dominic Maestracci said in a statement.
CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli said an interim coach could be appointed, perhaps leaving the door open for assistant Stephen Hart to lead the team at this summer's Gold Cup. That happened two years ago when Mitchell was committed to the under-20 team at the world championships.
Mitchell, a member of Canada's Soccer Hall of Fame, first played for his country at 18 and helped take it to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. He took his under-20 team to three world championships.
"This is a results-oriented business," he said upon getting hired as national coach. "And certainly when it comes to qualifying games it's all about finding a way to get results."
Asked why Mitchell had not been fired immediately after the failed World Cup campaign, Montopoli said the association wanted to review "the whole scenario."
Montopoli said there had been discussions with the Canadian players on the decision to dismiss Mitchell. Several players like Jim Brennan and Dwayne De Rosario had publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the team under Mitchell.
Canada's next game is a May 30 exhibition in Cyprus, followed by the Gold Cup in the summer.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press