Home MLS Toronto FC TFC is “set for 2019,” so new GM Curtis will be given time to learn the ropes

TFC is “set for 2019,” so new GM Curtis will be given time to learn the ropes

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Ali Curtis won’t be asked to make major changes to Toronto FC ahead of the 2019 season; his challenge will come as TFC may need to make in-season tweaks, and then help set up the team for 2020.

Curtis was announced as Toronto FC’s new general manager on Thursday. He replaces the outgoing Tim Bezbatchenko, who got permission before Christmas from TFC to entertain a job opportunity with the Columbus Crew. On Boxing Day, the Reds knew Bezbatchenko would be heading home to Ohio to helm the Crew.

With the MLS Superdraft imminent, and the Reds already having made a big signing in defender Laurent Ciman, the team is flying towards the 2019 campaign. The club has 25 players on the roster.

So, Curtis, who helmed the New York Red Bulls to a Supporters’ Shield and another Eastern Conference winning season before mutually agreeing to part ways with that club in 2017, will be given time to learn the ropes. He won’t be expected to make an earth-shattering decisions right away.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of work to be done in that standpoint,” said TFC President Bill Manning, who added that Curtis will be given four to six months to step back and assess what can be improved with the Reds.

“He’s not coming into a bare cupboard. We’re set for 2019.”

Coach Greg Vanney said, despite the team missing the playoffs in 2018, that TFC is “not a team in transition.” The mission in the off-season was to add “subtle pieces” which will hopefully put the team back on the path it was on in 2017, when it won the league championship and participated in its second MLS Cup match in a row.

Unlike previous Toronto FC management searches, which were painfully long, this decision was made quickly. As soon as Manning knew Bezbatchenko was out the door, he talked with coach Greg Vanney.

“We talked about moving forward and who we thought could lead our soccer operations and Ali was at the top of both of our lists.”

Curtis was brought into Toronto on Monday.

“While we certainly will miss Tim, we wanted to get the best guy out there,” said Manning.

Curtis said that TFC represents a “great organization, great community great people.”

You can argue that the timing of Bezbatchenko’s departure wasn’t optimal. But the truth is, there is no right time when it comes to MLS’s obscenely short off-season. This is a league where player transactions are made  just hours after the MLS Cup is presented. There is less than three months between the end of one season and the first kick of the next. Put in the draft, training camps, and the time off is just a matter of weeks.


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