Heath turns down Toronto FC, signs new Orlando City deal

Toronto FC courted Adrian Heath, and apparently even offered him a chance to one day be their head coach, but neither that or a sizable contract offer was enough to draw the Orlando City head coach away from Florida, toward the unstable setup at the current worst team in MLS.

Orlando City announced on Tuesday that Heath was staying put, signing him to a new three-year deal. The decision came after Heath spent part of last week touring Toronto FC, and the weekend mulling TFC’s big-money offer. In the end , Heath passed on a chance to be Paul Mariner’s lead assistant, and next in line to take one of the most unstable coaching jobs in MLS, and chose instead to stay put with a club that has MLS aspirations of its own.

Sources tell SBI that Toronto offered Heath a three-year, $300,000-a-year position. That’s a salary higher than several current MLS head coaches receive. Heath also told an Orlando TV station that part of the offer came with an understanding that Heath would eventually become the team’s head coach.

Reached in Mexico, where Toronto FC is preparing for a CONCACAF Champions League match against Santos Laguna, Mariner expressed disappointment with Heath’s decision, and stated unequivocally that Heath was the person he personally had targeted for the club to pursue for the assistant coaching job.

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” Mariner told SBI via telephone. “We thought he would be a good fit in Toronto.”

Mariner also downplayed Heath’s public comments that there was an understanding that Heath would eventually become the head coach. Mariner stated that there were no immediate plans for him to step aside as head coach in the immediate future, but that he “won’t be around forever” as head coach.

For Orlando City, keeping Heath around is a strong sign that the club wants to keep the team playing at a high level to maintain its solid standing in the Orlando market, and help the club’s chances of becoming an MLS expansion team. Heath may not be ready to jump to MLS just yet, but staying in Orlando might offer him a different path to the league.

What do you think of this development? Who do you think Toronto FC should turn to now? Think the team should clean house and start fresh, or do you feel Mariner deserves a full off-season running the team on his own?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Former TFC Fan, Now ashamed

    “Think the team should clean house and start fresh”?

    Nothing short of using a tactical nuclear weapon on BMO will save this (#%#$) show.


  • Felix

    I know its MLS, but I wouldn’t sign with TFC neither. That team is a perrenial mess. In a league that is designed for parity, how incompetent do you have to be to not compete.


  • alex

    I don’t blame him. Who would want to work under someone who’s stuck in the past like Paul Mariner, while he signs awful players and expects the coach to work with them.


  • Daniel

    Best news I have heard all day. I sit at the top of the section where it says Rosen Plaza and next season would be sad if Adrian Heath wasn’t there. Hopefully Orlando City can get to the MLS on their own (with Inchy of course) and he can get the acclaim he rightfully deserves. Heath is also the director of the whole Orlando City youth program and my daughter would be pissed if she had to learn a new offensive style đŸ™‚


  • David s.

    Pretty damning (and not inaccurate) statement about Toronto. But now I’m curious, who are the”several” MLS managers under 300K? Jay Heaps seems likely, but who else? That’s not a lot of money to spend on a team’s most important position, even by MLS standards.


  • WK

    At the rate Orlando FC are currently making, he could be a coach in MLS even faster. As for Toronto cleaning house- sure, why not? It’s already been 11 months since the last one, I think.


  • Brad

    What’s sad is that there is a vibrant soccer community in Toronto and the TFC FO has sucked the atmosphere out of it. It is unbelievable that they could do it in such short order. TFC had the potential to grow the stadium size each year and continue to sell out with 10,000 fans on the waiting list. There should be a business course on how to take the golden egg and transform it to dust.

    They need to hire a very strong GM and allow him to hire his own team including the coach. The main point is that they have to give him a complete free hand to run the team and hire who he wants WITHOUT interference. They also need to let Mariner and Cochrane go at the end of the season so that he can come in clean and fresh.

    Lowering season tickets is only one step, a good one, but the main step is the product on the pitch and respect for the organization they represent.


  • Gnarls 2.0

    Heath’s decision speaks volume about Orlando City, which seems to be a special club in an otherwise lowly league. I’d love to see them join MLS, or lat least get a “promotion” to NASL.

    … Actually, since I’m on the subject, I’d LOVE to see an NASL/USL two-tiered merger.


  • Pedro

    Orlando Sports editor Mike Gramajo who covers Orlando City asked Adrian Heath why he did not take the job:

    Heath said:

    “Toronto offered a good financial deal, but their football isn’t what I wanted,”

    This pretty much says it all


    • Gnarls 2.0

      What a statement that makes. TFC is so bad that a solid six-figure paycheck isn’t worth it to a third-div coach.


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