TFC coach is no Mo

Toronto FC players, Jeff Gonsalves, Maurice Edu and coach Mo Johnston pose for photographers during...

Toronto FC players, Jeff Gonsalves, Maurice Edu and coach Mo Johnston pose for photographers during team's press conference at ACC, January 15, 2007. (Alex Urosevic/Sun)

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston gave up his on-field duties yesterday to become the team's general manager and director of soccer operations.

The 44-year-old Johnston, who handled both the manager's and coach's job in the club's first Major League Soccer season in 2007, will be replaced on the sidelines by John Carver, a veteran of the English soccer wars.

The surprise move comes just two days before TFC opens its pre-season camp in Bradenton, Fla., where Johnston had promised big changes to a club that had the worst record in the league last year with six wins, nine draws and 15 defeats.

He now can work to get the kind of quality players he said he needed to make the team as successful on the pitch as it had been off it in its first year of operation.

Johnston said he will concentrate on growing the team, while leaving the day-to-day game decisions with Carver.

"He brings a lot of experience with him in all aspects of the game and I'm looking forward to working together," Johnston said. "We are committed to making this team better in every way, and John will be a big part of that."

Carver comes to TFC less than a month after being fired as co-manager of Luton Town, in the English League 1 division. At Luton, Carver worked alongside Kevin Blackwell, but both were fired after they announced they intended to quit if the club's finances were not put in order by team owners.

The TFC job will be Carver's first as a full-time head coach.

The 43-year-old Carver began his professional coaching life with Newcastle, stepping in as caretaker manager after Sir Bobby Robson was fired in 2004.

BIG JOB

He will have his work cut out for him as TFC set a pair of MLS marks in 2007. The first was needing 558 minutes before scoring its first goal and later going 824 minutes without a goal.

Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of TFC's parent Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., said the move was made to add more resources to the club for its sophomore season.

"(It) will enable Mo to devote more time to manage the assessment and procurement of talent which is even more important now with the expanded international player mix available for MLS teams," Anselmi said yesterday.

Johnston's new duties are more in order with the general manager jobs at MLSEL's other sports properties -- the NHL Maple Leafs and the NBA Raptors -- although he will continue to report to Anselmi.

"Mo will continue to be responsible for all aspects of soccer operations and we are providing him with more resources to support his objectives," Anselmi said.


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