Preki would be ideal fit

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

The 'P' word bandied about BMO Field has always been the elusive pursuit of the playoffs.

Three years in and three head coaches later, Toronto FC is reportedly turning to another 'P', Preki, to take them to the post-season.

Reports over the weekend indicate TFC is prepared to hire former Chivas USA manager Predrag (Preki) Radosavljevic as their new head coach.

Sources confirm talks are in the works, but nothing is official.

Preki jumped to the top of the wanted list for TFC leaving Chivas by mutual agreement less than a week ago after Chivas failed to advance through the first round of the Major League Soccer playoffs for the fourth consecutive year and third under Preki.

If the reason for Prekiís leaving was Chivas frustration of playoff disappointment, the decision seems misguided.

Regular season success is a better indicator of a coachís ability than results in playoffs, where match-ups and injuries are as important determinants of success as any.

True catalyst

Perhaps Prekiís interest in pursuing other coaching opportunities (something he alluded to upon his exit) was the true catalyst.

Interest in the suddenly available Preki has been considerable, even while he was still employed. The 2007 Major League Soccer Coach of the Year has been linked to head coaching positions in New York and DC United, as well as an open assistant coaching role with the US menís national team.

So the attempt by TFC director of coccer Mo Johnstonís to bring Preki to the club is commendable. TFC could ill-afford another unproven MLS coach of the likes of John Carver or Chris Cummins, two gentlemen who were never sure of the North American game and lacked the polished soccer professionalism needed to run a growing soccer club.

Attracting Preki to Toronto may mean a hybrid role of head coach and technical director, allowing Johnston to do what he does best in managing contracts and other pertinent soccer related operations.

Preki is a bright soccer mind with a breadth of knowledge and experience in MLS, making this kind of role ideal for a man with great ambition and desire.

Still, Preki has something more to prove as a head coach. That may make him a better option than New England Revolution head coach Steve Nichol, who has been widely regarded at the club as the ideal candidate for the vacant coaching position.

Preki becoming available earlier than expected meant TFC couldnít wait on Nichol to move forward.

Prekiís mentality and approach is exactly what TFC needs. TFC has never had a coach with tactical vision, a no-nonsense business first character who stresses defensive responsibility, and someone who knows how to manage an entire roster. The 46-year old Preki brings all those qualities.

As a player, one of the best in MLS history and a USMNT member, Preki was known for his flair and creativity. His approach as a coach is starkly different, preaching defence and superior team organization. Over the last three years, Prekiís teams have conceded 38 fewer goals than TFC, a testament to his soccer acumen an discpline.

Forget about any semblance of an out-dated 3-5-2 system in Toronto anymore. Preki employs a 4-4-2. His teams donít take a whole lot of risks, but at this point at TFC, winning trumps a freewheeling, defensively challenged style of play anyway.

Prekiís superior defence-first tactical approach has allowed his teams to continue getting results despite an inordinate amount of injuries that hit Chivas. During the 2009 season alone, Chivas fielded 24 different line-ups, with only five players playing more than 20 games.

If and when Preki signs on the dotted line, he will be the best shot TFC has ever had at playing sound tactical soccer.

gareth.wheeler@suntv.canoe.ca


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