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Turmoil in Toronto leads to shakeup
by Paul Kennedy, August 31st, 2014 5:27PM

TAGS:  mls, toronto fc


[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Less than 24 hours after an embarrassing 3-0 home loss to New England and head coach Ryan Nelsen's criticism of general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, Toronto FC fired Nelsen and his coaching staff and named Gregg Vanney as his replacement. On top of that, rumors persisted that Jermain Defoe will move to English club Queens Park Rangers before the end of the summer transfer window.

Vanney has been working as Toronto's assistant GM and director of its academy program. He previously worked at Chivas USA as an assistant to Robin Fraser.

Besides Nelsen, also gone are assistant coaches Fran O’Leary, Jim Brennan, Duncan Oughton, goalkeeper Coach Stewart Kerr and strength and conditioning coach Adrian Lamb. Assistant coach Jason Bent was offered a position to remain with the club.

The shakeup follows Nelsen's criticism of the 32-year-old Bezbatchenko, MLS's youngest general manager, after the loss to the Revs. Bezbatchenko had said on Friday it was time for Toronto to start playing better.

“I’ve won this league, played in it for four years, been in the Premier League for 10 years, played in a World Cup, Olympics. I’ve played in some pretty hot pressure games,” said Nelsen. “One thing that I do know is this was not one of them.”

Nelsen didn't like that Bezbatchenko had gone public with his criticism.

“It affected the guys,” Nelsen said of Bezbatchenko’s words. “What we do at Toronto FC is we keep it in-house -- everything we do, we keep inside the four walls. And the players, coaching staff, everything, stays within the four walls.”

What could not be denied, though, was how poorly TFC played against the Revs, falling behind, 2-0, after 21 minutes. The result left TFC in a three-way tie for third place with New England and Columbus. New York, which fell to D.C. United, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon, is in sixth place, two points behind the trio.

The shakeup comes after Tim Leiweke, who had brought Defoe and Michael Bradley to Toronto in moves that cost around $100 million, announced he was leaving as Toronto FC parent company Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment's president and CEO.

At a press conference on Sunday afternoon to announce the coaching changes, Bezbatchenko denied rumors that both Defoe and Bradley were on the way out, but he did say Toronto FC was in contact with QPR, which might buy Defoe or at least sign him on a loan deal.

The English international has scored 11 goals in 16 games but he is currently sidelined with a lingering groin injury that Nelsen had said on Friday would sideline him for at least several weeks.

  1. Lou vulovich
    commented on: September 1, 2014 at 9:10 a.m.
    Great move. Greg Vanney will turn out to be a great coach in the MLS. Long overdue for a head coaching job.
  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: September 1, 2014 at 12:21 p.m.
    Gosh, fire a straight shooter like Ryan Nelson in the middle of the only decent season TFC ever had. By a GM who is leaving and had publicly criticized the team. So Ryan stuck up for his guys. Who would have expected otherwise. Wonder what Michael Bradley thinks of all this?
  1. Doug Broadie
    commented on: September 1, 2014 at 12:34 p.m.
    Looks like BMO will be without a playoff season for another four years or more. They keep shooting themselves in the foot in Toronto.
  1. James Madison
    commented on: September 1, 2014 at 8:22 p.m.
    Apparently the Red Bulls and Chivas USA do not have a patent on allowing in-house squabbles to spoil their competitive performance.
  1. Zoe Willet
    commented on: September 2, 2014 at 2:19 a.m.
    Would love to see Defoe back with 'Arry!
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: September 2, 2014 at 2:44 p.m.
    Not a big loss. Nelson's squad has too much mediocrity. Vanney has the opportunity to prove himself; first order of the day, get rid of the Brazilian Jackson, he's useless.

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