On his fifth try, Greg Vanney
won MLS Cup.
Saturday night marked the culmination of a 17-year career in MLS -- 10 as a player, two as an assistant coach and four as a
head coach -- and he was finally rewarded with Toronto FC's 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup 2017.
“I think we had the greatest season in the history of the league, and
I don’t think that’s debatable,” Vanney said afterwards. “The rest of it is for everybody else.”
Vanney, who was named the 2017 Coach of the Year
after leading TFC to the Supporters' Shield,
was on the losing end of three MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy as a player -- in 1996, 1996 and 2001 -- and was head coach a year ago when Toronto FC lost to the Sounders in a shootout.
Toronto FC's victory was emotional for Vanney as his biggest fan did not to watch. Vanney's mother -- and Toronto FC defender Eriq Zavaleta
's grandmother -- passed away in April. Jeanette
died unexpectedly in April at the age of 69.
“That second goal was for me the first time my emotions kind of just came out a little bit,” Vanney, who is Zavaleta's
uncle, said. “For me, I looked up the sky because, as most of you are aware, I lost my mother this year and she would’ve been very proud. I’ve lost this game four times prior to
tonight, and she was a witness to all of those, and I was just really happy to be able to do that with this group of guys who have been amazing all year.”
Greg Vanney comes from a
family of educators. His father, William
, was a high school administrator and athletic director. His mother was a kindergarten teacher for 40 years and survived a car accident in 1979 that
required dozens of accidents throughout the rest of her life.
“She herself was a kindergarten teacher," said Greg Vanney. "And so I think I got some of my patience from her side. My
personal skills, my patience with people and my ability to interact with people and hopefully create an environment our guys love to have, those are traits that she had as a kindergarten
He said his mother always supported him in a career that also took him to France -- Corsican club Bastia -- for three seasons as a player and back home to Arizona, where
he helped start the Grande Sports World academy.
“As with a lot of moms," he said, "she was probably my No. 1 fan in the grand scheme of things. And she was in the stands yelling at
the referee when I didn’t get calls and all that kind of stuff. So I’m pleased that in a year like this, that we were able to do this. And I know she’s proud.”