Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
Just a day after saying goodbye to the club he helped build into an MLS dynasty, Kevin Payne will be introduced by the new club he will try to steer out of mediocrity.
Toronto FC will introduce Payne as the team’s new president at a 1:30pm press conference today. The move, reported by SBI on Tuesday, pairs one of the league’s worst franchises with arguably the most accomplished team official in MLS history.
Now that Payne is set to take over, the former D.C. United boss will have several major decisions to make. From whether he keeps Paul Mariner on as head coach, to whether TFC will keep the No. 1 pick in the 2013 MLS Draft or trade it. Payne has plenty of off-field issues to tackle as well, such as structuring of the Toronto front office, repairing of ties between the club and a fan base that has grown lethargic and jaded after six years of failure, and establishing better relationships between the club and the Canadian soccer community.
Toronto FC has been searching far and wide for an executive with the reputation and credentials to really make a mark on a club that has struggled badly since joining MLS in 2006. In Payne, the team brings in a president who has experience building a winner, and rebuilding a winner. D.C. United won four MLS Cup titles under Payne, a stat made more impressive by the fact that those four titles came under three different head coaches (one, Thomas Rongen, who happens to now be TFC’s Academy Director.)
Payne will now have the chance to cement his status as the most successful team president in league history if he can turn Toronto FC into a winner. Doing so would help balance the belief that D.C. United’s early success was more a product of Bruce Arena’s handiwork than Payne’s. D.C. United’s fourth championship, won with Peter Nowak as head coach in 2004, helped boost Payne’s credentials and diminish the theory that Payne couldn’t win without Arena either in charge or having built the team (the 1999 MLS Cup championship team in D.C. was made up largely of players Arena brought in).
What do you think of Payne’s chances of turning things around? See him being able to turn TFC into a winner? Think he keeps Mariner as head coach or see him hiring someone else?
Share your thoughts below.