Toronto FC GM: Mo Johnston

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:35 AM ET

In terms of longevity, Toronto FC manager Mo Johnston is the baby among the group of suits who operate professional sports franchises in Canada's largest market.

It doesn't mean, however, that the 44-year-old native of Glasgow, Scotland, is above the fray when it comes to being under the microscope for his handling of the wildly successful -- at least at the gate -- TFC, a team that has carved out a niche in the GTA sports landscape like no other soccer franchise before it.

Yet, Johnston has not only survived his baptism of fire in TFC's rookie Major League Soccer season, he seems to have thrived.

Witness a post-game moment after his club had lost 1-0 to D.C. United at BMO Field on Aug. 25 extending the club's winless and goalless streak to a MLS record seven games.

Johnston walked out of the main gate into a throng of TFC supporters to chants of "Keep you spirits up," "You will get them next time" and "You almost had 'em."

A smiling Johnston turned to a reporter who was trailing behind him and said: "You know, if this was back in Scotland they would be screaming to hang me."

And although there was a scattering of boo-birds at that game, Johnston has kept the club's fans' faith by never standing still -- a mistake made by too many of his peers in Toronto.

In fact, if he did catch the ire of team supporters and often quizzical comments from those who covered TFC it was because of his deal-a-day pace for nearly the whole 2007 season.

There was a theory that Johnston -- stung at being let go by the new owners of New York Red Bull after just a season as manager there -- wanted desperately to make his return to the MLS ranks a successful one and if it took bringing in players by the busload until he found 28 who could contend in the MLS than so be it.

There is statistical proof that Johnston's wheeling and dealing did have a positive effect, however, on the young team's first season.

In one way, at least, he succeeded.

TFC not only led the league in attendance for a new franchise it also became the best expansion team on the field as well with a record of 6-17-7 (25 points in 30 games).

"Being an expansion team in any sport is always a challenge, and we feel Mo has done a sound job of identifying talent and bringing in players who could become the foundation of our franchise," Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of MLSEL, said.

MLSEL has shown the patience of Job with John Ferguson at their Leafs franchise, but Johnston can't expect the same if TFC goes into a sophomore funk.

GETTING TO KNOW MO

Born: April 16, 1963

Highlights: Played professionally for 20 seasons, scoring 221 goals ... As a manager, he has a record of 6-17-7 with TFC and 4-4-8 with New York.


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