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.