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Adekugbe, Laryea fire back at reports Herdman lost CanMNT's locker room

John Herdman Alphonso Davies Canada John Herdman Alphonso Davies - The Canadian Press

In the aftermath of John Herdman departing Canada's men's national soccer team to become manager of Toronto FC, reports have surfaced that the 48-year-old's relationship had begun to sour with members of the national team.

Canadian players and Vancouver Whitecaps teammates Sam Adekugbe and Richie Laryea, who both represented Canada the 2022 FIFA World Cup, sounded off on those reports Tuesday.

“Things run [their] course,” Adekugbe told the Toronto Sun. “In football, you don’t see many coaches hanging around for five, 10 years in their teams. So I think John felt that he ran his course - and that’s for him to decide. We cannot say anything. We’re all disappointed.

“I see a lot of rubbish in the news, and I won’t speak about it, but I think it’s wrong to say that he lost the locker room.

“I don’t want to give [the reports] any credit. When I hear things like he’s lost the locker room completely … it’s almost ridiculous to say. We played in the Nations League final, we played in a World Cup, and if you lose a locker room … how are we really getting into those positions in the first place?”

Herdman had served as Canada's men's head coach since 2018 after seven years as head coach of country's women's national soccer team.

The men's team enjoyed a sharp rise during Herdman's tenure, rising to a high of 33rd in the FIFA rankings in 2022. 

Canada also reached the men's World Cup for the second time in history last fall, finishing fourth in a group with Morocco, Croatia, and Belgium. 

Most recently, the team suffered a 2-0 loss to the United States in the CONCACAF Nations League Final in June and were eliminated from the Gold Cup in the quarter-finals in July by team USA in the penalty shootout.

Laryea argued that the reports on Herdman losing the locker room contradict the team's results, but noted a change could benefit both sides.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Laryea added to the Postmedia outlet of players tuning Herdman out.

“We have a very good group at the national team. I would not use the word lost, but I think people started putting the national team at a higher and higher standard, which is normal. I think we want to make this a footballing country. So to say he’s lost the room … after we’ve gone to a World Cup, finished top of the group for qualifying, went to a Nation’s League final … I don’t know if people are being very realistic with that.

“I get it from a fan perspective. You want the national team to grow and grow and grow, and I think that’s what it needs to do. … Maybe this will be a breath of fresh air for John getting a new environment, and a new environment and breath of fresh air for all the guys on the national team as well.”

ContentId(1.2001060): SC Timeline: Herdman's road to Toronto FC

Canada sits 43rd in the FIFA rankings as the country now searches for a new head coach for the 2026 World Cup, which will be played on home soil, along with America and Mexico.