TFC ownership finally makes some sound moves

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:18 PM ET

TORONTO - There is no question that Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the expansion Whitecaps in Vancouver was embarrassing for Toronto FC.

But sadly, since this is Year 5 for the Major League Soccer franchise, avoiding embarrassment on the pitch is very much secondary to doing the same off of it.

Nobody is saying the aim for the revamped club should not be to have a winning record, success in the CONCACAF Champions League and a playoff spot, but what is paramount, is dropping the laughingstock stigma that has followed the franchise around like a bad smell since its inception.

A year ago, the team didn’t even have enough players when the season started and was busy dismissing one of its only legitimate offensive threats, Canadian international Ali Gerba.

This year, Mo Johnston and the gong show mentality that came with him are gone, a major plus.

The bulk of the players will no longer come from one source and, hopefully, promises made one day, broken the next — which led to the De Rosario and Cann fiascos — will be done away with.

The absence of zany deposed head coach Preki, who cleared out or relegated to the bench Johnston’s players as fast as he could, sparred with the media, made bizarre lineup decisions and drew the ire of many of his own players should go a long way as well.

But not all of what happened previously can be laid at the feet of Johnston and Preki.

Ownership let its rabid fan base down by taking an absentee approach and by not forcing Johnston to be soberly second-guessed by a supporting group of soccer-savvy executives.

Sound moves were finally made by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. Bringing in German legend Jurgen Klinsmann to help turn around the entire mess was an inspired choice.

It is up to the men Klinsmann came up with, Dutchman Aron Winter, already the sixth coach in team history and Paul Mariner to bring stability and put an end to the shenanigans once and for all.

That means keeping any further contract squabbles with the likes of captain Dwayne De Rosario and Adrian Cann completely under wraps — or better yet, dealt with before they become an issue.

It means making sound personnel decisions with no favouritism or cronyism and it means managing the salary cap far more diligently than Johnston did.

It won’t be easy, but it is long overdue.

By becoming a professional outfit instead of the punchline of the city and the league, TFC will lift itself up and start to fulfil its promise.

The home portion of the Reds’ schedule begins on Saturday at BMO Field against the expansion Portland Timbers.

While there are no guarantees the faithful will be able to cheer on a team that has turned the corner, at least management finally seems to have.

Let’s hope it stays that way.


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