[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Toronto FC has a new head coach -- sort of. It confirmed the hiring of New Zealand international Ryan Nelsen as head coach to replace interim coach Paul Marinerwith one not so small condition. Nelsen will not be available to coach until he has finished his playing season with Queen's Park Rangers in England in the spring. In the meantime, Fran O'Leary, a college coach for more than 20 years, most recently at Division III Bowdoin, will be in charge of the team.
Kevin Payne, recently installed as president and general manager at Toronto FC, is willing to wait for Nelsen to fulfill his obligations with relegation candidate QPR.
"My feeling about Ryan is that he's going to be leading this team for five years to come," Payne said Tuesday at a press conference to introduce Nelsen, "and if I have to wait a couple of months to start that process, I can afford to wait. I'd rather do that than make the wrong decision or decision I didn't want to make for the short-term."
Nelsen, who played for Payne at D.C. United after coming out of Stanford, is the third head coach Payne has hired straight out of the playing ranks.
"You understand, by definition, they don't have coaching experience but they have the intangibles that make them leaders," Payne said. "And that's the most important quality. They need the right kind of support around them."
O'Leary has 24 years of head coaching experience but no experience at the pro level.His first Division I job was at Dartmouth, where he succeeded Bobby Clark, who moved first to New Zealand and then to Stanford, where Nelsen played.