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Winless Toronto FC reshuffles front office

TorontoFCStaff (TurcharioISI)

Toronto FC is off to an 0-8 start to the Major League Soccer season, and rather than seeing anybody lose their job, the club's response to that awful start has been to change some people's job titles.

TFC announced on Monday that assistant coach Bob de Klerk has been moved to a role as Technical Manager, while former TFC player and recent Toronto FC Junior Academy coach Jim Brennan takes over as the team's lead assistant.

The club also announced that Paul Mariner, the team's Director of Player Development, would "take a more active role on the pitch", as in helping out with the coaching of the team's forwards.

What does the front office reshuffling mean for the club? It means that, for the moment, TFC ownership isn't quite ready to send any heads rolling. It also shows, at least on the surface, that the team is eager to have head coach Aron Winter and Mariner work more closely together. Perhaps in an attempt to improve a relationship that sources have called frosty for months.

As for how the changes might help the team in the short term, there is a sense that going from a task-master like de Klerk to a more well-liked player's coach type in Brennan might help improve the mood in the locker room.

“We believe these decisions will benefit our club from top to bottom," Winter said in a statement released by the club. "Bob’s new position will allow the team to benefit more from his technical expertise and have him play a more active role in the day-to-day operations of the club off-the-pitch.

"Our U-17 Academy program has done well under Jimmy's direction," Winter added. "The goal of our Academy is provide growth and development for our players and our coaches. This promotion is a well-deserved opportunity for Jimmy.”

It might seem like Winter has lost some power by having his right-hand man moved into the front office, but there is a sense from people in Toronto that Winter will benefit from having a strong ally in the front office. While that may be the case, if Toronto keeps losing matches it won't be long before Winter AND Mariner will both be forced out (and it is anybody's guess who TFC ownership would turn to if things hit bottom).

What do you think of these changes? Can you see Toronto FC turning things around, or do you see the club being destined for one of the worst seasons in MLS history?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. The problem I foresee is that (a) you would need the Academy to produce not just good kids but ready made pros and (b) it’s a a salary cap league where no sooner do they get good and ask for more money then you’d have a cap issue. Some teams are better than others but I’m not sure if Houston for instance has gotten more than a game or two here or there from its homegrowns. That may reflect Kinnear’s veteran obsession or it may also reflect the pitfalls awaiting those trying to fix a pro team via an amateur youth system. There’s a gap in there at roughly the U-23/college level that would need to be addressed.

  2. All due respect but the 10th place in 2010, mostly under Preki, remains the TFC high water mark in the MLS table, failure such as it was. Preki managed to get a generally awful Chivas franchise to the playoffs and CCL repeatedly, which to me is a miracle.

    What TFC needs, to me, is a MLS-experienced coach of the Arena/ Bradley/ Schmid pedigree with a history of taking teams, shaping them, and winning silverware. I think with some of the goofy personnel decisions it will be a project, but probably a more fruitful one than trying to graft Ajax tactics and personnel approaches onto a North American salary cap soccer team.

    My impression of the FO moves is they have put Winter over practice coaching, but taken away his advance scouting and foreign acquisitions power, and removed his de Klerk training wheels. I think they want to see if he can swim being tossed in the deep end without de Klerk. And I think they want de Klerk as far from the field as possible without having to eat his contract.

  3. Work in progress, couple years ago in Canada it was TFC and a few minor league sides. Now it’s three first dvision teams, Edmonton, and a few other minor league teams. Actually headed in the right direction.

    Of course, they could mimic the USOC and let in all the North American minor league teams in Canada, eg, PDL, as well as those in the Canadian-specific leagues, but we all know it would come down to these 4 anyway, just like USOC has since the re-boot been a MLS bastion with the exception of that one Rochester year. So it would be style over substance.

    Also gotta factor in that the pro teams are the most likely to have a semblance of the resources to travel across vast Canada to play a soccer tournament. I don’t know if making some Nova Scotia amateur team fly all the way over to BC to play the Whitecaps, just to say they had a fuller field, is even economically well-considered. At minimum it would have to be regionally broken down to limit costs and travel.

  4. Four games against two opponents to be your country’s “champion?”

    My nine-year old daughter’s club team faces more competition in its league cup than that.

  5. To be fair, I have never knocked the city of Toronotp. I think it’s a great, great city. I’m not even being a wise guy. I have been there several times & love it.

    I’m just being up on the TFC fans who were haughty at the outset.

  6. I don’t want to see the team fail. I just want to hear some fans say, “Boy, we sure were haughty & now we are deservedly being punished with a terrible team.”

  7. BoBo is on to something here. The structure and quality of TFC’s academy at its various levels is allowing the team to develop players that in the past would have already left for Europe like most Canadian talent over the past 30 years. The team is well set-up for the future.

    I’ve had the misfortune to watch several TFC games this season (Not a supporter though), and they aren’t as terrible as their record suggests. They aren’t good, and made some stupid signings for this season, but they are going to win a few games going forward, and against some good teams.

    On the CCL: The tourney is a four team affair, because semi=pro teams are not invited to participate. Two home and home series decides the champion. Winning it means little. They are into the second/last round after beating Montreal, a team that is still finding itself. It will take a few more years to make this tourney a little more meaningful. Ottawa is joining the NASL next season, and there have been rumours that London, Quebec City and Calgary are interested in starting teams. By 2020, the CCL may look a little more challenging with 8-10 teams, if the pro game keeps developing in Canada the way it is now.

  8. Bobo says, good move. Better than you see in MLS. Beyond understanding from most fans, haters, etc… TFC is structuring itself for an even deeper future. Bobo says this was not a knee jerk reaction. This was planned out based on Mr. Cochrane’s suggestions to Tom Anselmi. BoBo knows.

  9. TFC, poor results for the US MNT, no olympic qualification for the USA, please give up on der komisar as USA coach. This is going no where. Klinsman out

  10. Exactly. Not just that he clearly blows out of proportion what a few fans said, but isn’t the whole point of regional rivalries, supporter’s groups, singing, marching to matches, yearning for free-flowing soccer, etc. to try and match some of the better qualities of Europe? Why shouldn’t fan bases like Toronto try to achieve that(and to some degree do so)? Toronto is one of the most international cities in North America percentage-wise, there fan support until this year has been largely unwavering despite incompetent ownership. They’re great. Calm down, just sound like a hater. Also odd you want one of the finite amount of teams that can bring in big-time DP’s to be this terrible.

  11. You mean the same proper footy culture that Klinsman is also trying to instill on the USMNT?

    It’s a bit odd that people want to see what was once a cash cow of a team in Toronto fail – you know, especially considering that the league has a revenue sharing model where one teams financial success benefits everyone.

  12. The problem is with the ownership. So long as MLSE owns the team and suits like Anselmi are actively meddling with the team, no one will succeed here.

    We did try the MLS route with Preki.

  13. I don’t like United, Manchester OR DC. I like RBNY, USMNT & Ajax.

    I just don’t like the haughty folks to the north who were all going to show us “how to do it.” Toronto has an annoying fan base with a superior attitide for no reason whatsoever. I have never seen fans more impressed with themselves (with the possible of Seatle but at least they’ve won something. TFC is just garbage)

    Toronto fans deserve what they are getting for being so full of themslves at the outset. I hope that the team is winless for the season & their fans spend the summer crying into their “crsips” & discussing “proper footy culture.”

  14. And look he pops up again, right on cue! Because the fans should be blamed for front office incompetency, right? That’s why Manchester United fans are the best in the world.

  15. thanks Mike. I had to look it up after your reply.

    below 2 quotes from a July 29, 2011 TorontoFC website article that disagrees with you:

    “Jurgen Klinsmann has experienced a busy 2011. The German legend started the year helping Toronto FC find its new management team. ”


    “Klinsmann’s ties with Toronto FC, in particular with its coaching staff that he helped put in place, can be helpful to TFC in the long run”

  16. I may be way off base but from an outsiders perspective it’s always seems TFC has tried to create a worldly image instead of a MLS image. In essence, what I’m saying is that they’ve tried, to no avail, to look “sexy and European” by bringing in people (execs and coaches) who have little or no knowledge of MLS or the way North American sports operate. That philosophy has failed throughout the duration of MLS. I don’t know why TFC thought they could be a trend setter. Mariner has been the one hiring that’s made sense. Having him involved on the sidelines can be an asset. How much so being 0-8 is the big questions. Toronto is such an important market in MLS and it’s a crying shame they can’t get their act together. They can’t afford to lose fans due to incompetence.

  17. The spec up here in Canada is two execs (including one involved in this) have been sabotaging Winter’s efforts to bring in talent that can play the system, so they’re putting his guy in the place to evaluate talent, and moving Mariner out of said position, likely in part due to the defensive crap he signed over the winter.

    Players also felt Winter and DeKlerk were too cold and professional, not tight with them.

    Lots of crap floating about.

  18. Sort of irrelevant. They’re good enough to be the Galaxy twice and make the semi-finals of the champions league, so yeah.

    But the champions’ league is a tournament of weak domestic league teams, including in Canada, so it’s not really surprising. Yeah, the U.S. teams go thorugh a few more rounds (literally only a few, as most amateur teams are weeded out long before they could play MLS), but the U.S. has 300 million people, Canada has 30 million and many of the other participant nations even fewer.


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