[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Toronto hired 31-year-old Tim Bezbatchenko as its new general manager. He comes to Toronto from MLS, where he held the title of senior director of player relations and competition, and will be the second youngest GM in MLS history behind Lynne Meterparel, whom the San Jose Clash hired in 1999 at the age of 30.
Bezbatchenko's hiring follows the latest housecleaning in Toronto, where Kevin Payne, who was brought in as president and general manager less than a year was ousted.
His job will to rebuild TFC, which will miss the playoffs for a seventh straight year -- the longest stretch in league history.
Bezbatchenko grew up in Ohio, played college soccer at Richmond and pro ball with USL's Pittsburgh Riverhounds and then attended University of Cincinnati College of Law. After two years in private practice, he joined MLS in 2010.
"This is kind of a Theo Epstein hire," said Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, said, referring to the baseball executive hired by the Boston Red Sox at the age of 28 as the youngest GM in Major League Baseball history. Two years later, Boston ended its long drought and won the baseball world championship.
Winning MLS Cup 2015 would be a stunning accomplishment. First things first will be rebuilding TFC for the 2014 season.
"I do not think the dark days are over yet but I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we control our own destiny," said Leiweke, who was himself only 24 when he held his first GM position with the indoor Baltimore Blast in 1980. "And now we have to do the heavy lifting to get there by January so we could look everyone in the eye and tell them this is a different era here in this organization."