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TFC fire Nelsen, Vanney named new head coach

RyanNelsenTFC4 (USATodaySportsImages)

Photo by Jean-Yves Ahern/USA Today Sports Images



There will be a new man in charge of Toronto FC for the rest of the 2014 season and beyond.

Saturday evening’s 3-0 defeat to the New England Revolution was the final straw for Ryan Nelsen, who has been fired as TFC head coach. The club confirmed the move on Sunday afternoon, with general manager Tim Bezbatchenko also announcing that the rest of Nelsen’s coaching staff had also been fired, and Greg Vanney has been installed as Nelsen’s replacement.

“I believe in the group of players we have here at Toronto FC,” Bezbatchenko said in a club-issued statement. “This is a group that we know is capable of winning and it’s our job to put them in a position to be successful. Our recent results have fallen below our expectations and a change was needed. Greg is a person that possesses all the qualities that align with our vision for Toronto FC.”

Nelsen publicly criticized Bezbatchenko following the defeat to the Revolution, claiming that Bezbatchenko’s comments for the team to “pick it up a notch” weren’t helpful.

“Not at all. Absolutely not,” Nelsen told “I’ve played in some hot pressure games. One thing I do know is that this was not one of them. It affected the guys. What we do at TFC is we keep it in house. Everything we do we keep inside the four walls. Everything stays inside the four walls.”

If the reports are true, the firing ends Nelsen’s nearly 19-month stint in Toronto. Nelsen was surprisingly appointed by former manager Kevin Payne and struggled in his first season in charge, going 6-17-11. This past offseason, the club received a huge injection of talent, including signing three Designated Players in Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, and Gilberto.

However, the trio and the rest of the squad sit in fourth place after 24 games, with a 9-9-6 record, a -4 goal differential, and a number of poor performances.


What do you think of this news? Surprised to see Nelsen fired? Did you think he would be given the rest of the year? Did you think they should have fired him sooner?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I am the most important player in MLS just as my father is the greatest coach in league history.
    To say otherwise is heresy!

    • Agree. TFC cannot get out of its own way. Look what has happened over the season. Leiweke figured out he would never be able to overcome the dysfunction there and is bailing. Nelson, who I think will eventually be a good MLS coach, is out. Now Defoe has his eye on the door and is trying to get out before it shuts. It’s just an awful situation. And for the record, Bradley has been very Meh the entire season. Not saying this is all on him, but there were high expectations that he would lead the team on the field to better things, and it just hasn’t happened.

  2. Ryan Nelson is from New Zealand, not England, and he played in MLS for several years before moving on to the English Premier League where he had a pretty distinguished career. You should know a little bit about the man before you trash him.

  3. Please have Mercy on us. NO MORE stupid Englishmen as coaches. This guy was so smug, so “English know it all” that he thought he knew more than his boss but couldnt show the results. Go back to Scunthorpe United were you belong. We dont need you to tell us whats important about the game.

  4. Toronto might be making a mistake here firing Nelson . Sure They are not at the top of the tables, but they are in play contention . Defoe has been injured alot and Bradley was out for the world cup as well. Gilberto is just hitting stride The Dps have not been able to play together enough to gel as a unit with the rest of the players yet TFC has managed to hold a play off spot. Nelson should have been given much more time.

      • Chill the hell out ? and not destroy the team at a pivotal point in the season ? smh TFC is suffering from poor leadership , top to bottom. GM to team Captain

  5. When Bradley and Defoe signed I made the comment here and on Big Soccer that Toronto FC will not make the playoffs. You cannot field a quality side in soccer when 90% of your wages go to two players. You can do that in basketball. Basketball is not soccer. In soccer you need closer equality at each position (or at least a similar level of competency). But this is the system MLS wants (DP players teamed with League 1 quality players). This is what happens when you have ex-NFL goobers who don’t know anything about soccer running a soccer league.

    • but they are going to make the playoffs…comfortably. That is what Nelson meant by the Revolution game not being a “high pressure” game

      • They are two points clear and -4 on goal difference with NYRB.

        I’ll say it right here. They won’t make the playoffs.

      • They have games in hand. Despite not really playing well this year and not really having their top guys consistently available, they are the 3rd highest points per game in the conference. They are comfortable right now. Work to do, but they should get it done. Again, that is why Nelson said that the Revolution game was not a big deal…

      • that’s MLS for ya. Regular season games aren’t a big deal. And they wonder why no one wants to watch the league .

      • Have you watched them play?

        Do you disagree with my assessment that having 90% of your wages going to two players is not going to make for a good team on the field?

      • I would completely agree that 90% to three players is not smart, but you are not considering MLS salary structure and rules. Technically, those three players probably make up closer to 30-40% of the team’s personnel budget

      • That doesn’t really matter. They have tied up the same amount of cap space as a team that spends 500k on a designated player as opposed to $6 million a pop.

    • Defoe and Bradley are DP’s, so their salary doesn’t count against the cap. Any team with high profile DP’s will have most of their money going to them. So the fact that Defoe and Bradley get a large % of the total salary is not unusual or relevant; most all MLS teams have this situation..

  6. Bradley shouldhave never come home to MLS.

    Should have stayed at ROMA. Had a good to GREAT WORLD CUP and would have been sold to a bigger club or been given a larger role with Roma as they prepare for the CL.

    but noooooo he took 6 million a year to play with a crappy team and will now suffer. His lack of ambition played a part in his horrid world cup.

    • “lack of ambition.” that is hilarious.

      Even more hilarious — the idea that this “lack of ambition” caused him to have a “horrid” world cup.

  7. TFC was an embarrassment against the Revs. The team didn’t look like they gave two sh*ts, and (unfortunately) Michael Bradley was as guilty as everyone else wearing red.

  8. Have always thought very highly of Ryan Nelson and his leadership qualities. Toronto has been a difficult situation but think Nelson will bounce back and be a great manager given the right situation. I bet if you had asked anyone associated with DCU a few years back who would make a better manager Olsen or Nelson, they all would have picked Nelson. Class act.

      • No seriously, do you not pay attention to how the MLS works. You have a good starting 11. Then random people who you hope can contribute. Moyes is good at finding those guys that are considered “average’ and getting them to play well.

        Teams with depth lose it.
        An example of this is how Seattle is going to get taken apart in the expansion draft.

      • Most European managers fail because they don’t understand how the MLS system works. They are used to a system where they have a certain amount of money to spend and then they just go after the best players they can get with the money they have. It’s a lot more complicated here and I doubt ;Moyes would be a good fit. Nor do I think he would want the job. He can probably afford to sit around until a decent job opens up in the EPL.

  9. I blame this on Bradley. Bradley is too young and “good” for MLS. He is not Beckham and Henry that can go back to Europe in a snap and now he needs to win cups in MLS and he will do it his way.


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