Home MLS Toronto FC Leiweke: Next Toronto FC general manager will be a salary-cap guru, must accept Nelsen as coach

Leiweke: Next Toronto FC general manager will be a salary-cap guru, must accept Nelsen as coach


Toronto FC’s next general manager will need to be a “capologist,” said Tim Leiweke, the president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

Speaking to media Thursday morning in the wake of the news that Kevin Payne had been relieved of his duties as TFC’s general manager and president, Leiweke said that MLSE will make sure it finds the right person to take over the club. But, at the same time, the organization needs to begin preparing for the next transfer window, which opens in January.

Leiweke also said that the new general manager must accept Ryan Nelsen will continue as the club’s head coach.

“I’m comfortable with Ryan, he will be our coach next year.”

Despite TFC’s struggles, Leiweke said Nelsen is showing that he’s getting better as a coach, and shares the philosophy on how to build a team with the MLSE boss.

“We had to through a process of training wheels with the new coach,” said Leiweke,

Leiweke confirmed that Earl Cochrane, who had been the team’s director of team and player operations, was also let go. Pat Onstad, who had been the team’s head scout will have his fate decided by the new GM.

But there were some mixed messages in the teleconference. First, Leiweke said he won’t rush the process of hiring Mr. Right for TFC.

“We won’t rush it. We will wait until we find the right person and move on from there.”

But he then went on to say that the team must begin its preparations right away so it’s ready for the next international transfer window, that opens in January. He also said the decision was made for Payne to leave now so that the team could change its direction as quickly as possible.

“Some of (our) differences in direction relate to decisions being made in the near future,” said Leiweke. Those decisions will be critical to the future success of this club.”

So, TFC will take its time to hire the right person, but needs to change its front office right away. It’s a little confusing.

As well, the new general manager won’t have the power to bring in a new coach. Payne had that power, and brought in Nelsen. And, now Nelsen has survived the Leiweke purge, while Payne didn’t.

The reason? Those “differences in direction” alluded to by Leiweke. The MLSE boss, who came to Toronto from the AEG promotions operation that has the Galaxy in its portfolio, said a team has to be built on four pillars: Academy, drafts, trades and designated players.

While Payne and Leiweke agreed on those four pillars, they didn’t see eye-to-eye on how they should be implemented.

Leiweke did credit Payne for “clearing out contracts” that had burdened the Reds. “It’s the best gift he can give to our next general manager.”

And who will that be? Leiweke said that TFC will borrow from the NBA, and look for someone who is a master at handling the salary cap. Not only will that person need to understand TFC’s cap issues, but what other MLS teams might be struggling with their cap spaces — and would need to make players available. Working in a salary-cap environment is a predatory business, where those in positions of strength need to take advantage of those who are desperate to free themselves of contracts.

Leiweke said the new coach has to “understand the cap, understand trades, understand the Collective Bargaining Agreeement, understand mechanisms within MLS so that it becomes an advantage for us.”

Developing homegrown players will be “as high a priority as a DP.”

And, Leiweke said season-ticket holders won’t pay a dime until Janaury, giving them time to assess the team’s moves. He said he realizes that TFC is at a point where no marketing plans can save them.

“It’s not about flash. It’s not about spin. We have to roll up our sleeves and quietly get the job done.

“If we fail here, there will be a mass exodus. We get it.”

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  1. Steven Sandor

    September 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks. Tech glitch. Fixed.

  2. cwell

    September 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Something missing from this sentence: “Pat Onstad, who had been the team’s head scout will.”

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