TFC needs plan of attack

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:30 PM ET

TORONTO - Eighty-six days.

That’s how long it’s been since Toronto FC removed director of soccer Mo Johnston and head coach Preki from their respective positions.

Those positions are still vacant.

Nobody seems to know when they will be filled. And until that time, Toronto FC continues to be a rudderless ship.

What’s taking so long? When the Los Angeles Galaxy fired Ruud Gullit and Alexi Lalas in 2008, Bruce Arena was hired within two weeks. His directive was simple: Clean up the mess and build a winner.

Arena may have been a no-brainer, but it was decisiveness from management that quickly put the Galaxy on the right-track, and results have followed.

Similar decisive action was needed after Johnston and Preki were let go. But TFC hasn’t shown an urgency to hire, instead spending too much time putting out fires in its own backyard.

Righting the ship has been entrusted to a collective operating under “interim”tags: stand-in general manager Earl Cochrane and stand-in coach Nick Dasovic.

The longer it takes to replace the interim tags with permanent solutions, the longer the team’s directive will be stalled.

Toronto FC and Chivas USA are the only two Major League Soccer teams with front-office/head coaching uncertainty. Important roster building dates, as well as preparation time continue to be wasted.

Astute teams used last month’s expansion draft to become stronger. And next week’s second stage of the re-entry draft provides further opportunity to improve.

Some tasty names are available.

Even at 35 years of age, Juan Pablo Angel is as good a goal-scorer as they get, and veteran defender Jimmy Conrad would look good on any MLS roster. But due to TFC’s front office uncertainly, it’s hard to see the team being anything other than a casual observer. New leadership would surely prefer a clean slate rather than players chosen by a transitory regime.

And therein lays the paradox of the situation; there is nothing wrong with taking your time to find a proper long-term solution. A prudent search is always advisable. But time is of the essence for Toronto.

They’ve spun their wheels for four years now. Patience isn’t a practice they can preach. The search for the ultimate successor should be done by now.

Releasing players this off-season was easy. Improving the team is much more difficult. And all Toronto has done was trade a first-round pick in this year’s SuperDraft for midfielder Nathan Sturgis.

Sturgis fits the bill for a team in flux — a young, cheap, multi-dimensional option for whoever takes over. And with the player combine two weeks away, and the SuperDraft on Jan. 13, it’s unlikely the proper individual to make the right decisions would be in place anyway.

Those hoping “consultant” Juergen Klinsmann would have helped move along the process must be greatly disappointed. The German’s involvement has always been geared toward long-term sustained growth and development. And his said advice, to invest and improve in their academy is well-advised.

Toronto has been told by management that top names have shown interest in the positions. None have signed on the dotted line as of yet.

Instead, it’s Cochrane, Dasovic, and Jim Brennan calling the shots.

All three individuals, likeable gentlemen and have experience in the game, but none are the ‘home run’ Toronto FC apparently has been swinging for.

If somehow, someway, the trio currently running the show is the brain-trust going forward, it would be entirely underwhelming.

But if that’s the case, so be it. But drop the interim tags and get on with it.

The long-term interim status didn’t work for the Maple Leafs when Cliff Fletcher took over from John Ferguson Jr. in 2008.

Fletcher held the reins for just over 10 months. And under Fletcher’s watch, the team fired Paul Maurice and hired Ron Wilson and handed defenceman Jeff Finger a ridiculous contract.

None of those moves have brought even marginal success.

If decisions aren’t made soon on the soccer side, Toronto FC will be headed down the same road as the Maple Leafs. And that road is under permanent construction with no successful ending in sight.


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