If TFC does not qualify for the MLS Post Season in 2010 then their consecutive run of seasons played without a playoff appearance for Toronto will be a league leading four seasons. Four coaches (one of them Mo Johnston of course) and 75+ players on the pitch in TFC Red speaks to the lack of continuity and of the lack of a long term plan to improve the quality of the team. And it goes without saying that one of the very few constants in these soon to be four complete campaigns has been the tenure of Mo Johnston as Director of Soccer.

I have made my feelings very well known about Mo from day one in this space and I stick by what I have said. I do not believe that he should remain in charge of Toronto FC after this season, even if TFC makes a modest playoff run and/or advances into the knockout rounds of the Champions League. Mo’s job more than anything else was to secure a base for this new franchise on the pitch that could lead to the same sort of success the club has had in the stands and in the community. And the success of TFC as a business has far and away exceeded the results on the pitch. Four years was enough time to do the job Mo, and the job remains far from completed. Each season the club on the pitch was essentially blown up and rebuilt from scratch. Each season players showed up late into the spring or early summer without training with their new team mates, and each season Toronto was slow to get out of the blocks. This season for example I remember Dag Gargan showing up at Crew Stadium an hour before game time as his contract was only signed that morning.

I pulled together some numbers today that I think speak to my points of a lack of a long term plan for success for the club under Mo’s tenure.

MLS games played:

111

Victories:

32

Draws:

30

Defeats:

49

Goals For:

127

Goals Against:

161

Goals Per Game:

1.14

Conceded per Game:

1.45

Coaches: 

4

MLS Playoff Appearances: 

0

Total Home Attendance:

1,465,056

Home Attendance Average:

20,069

MLS Rookie of the year: 

Maurice Edu

Voyageurs Cup Winners: 

2009 & 2010

CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage:

2010

 

 And here is the list of players that have played for Toronto FC in almost four complete seasons.

 TFC Players since 2007

Attakora, Nana; Barrett, Chad; Boyens, Andrew: Braz, Adam; Brennan, Jim; Buddle, Edson; Cañizalez, Miguel; Cann, Adrian; Casey, Conor; Conway, Jon; Cronin, Sam; Cunningham, Jeff; De Guzman, Julian; De Rosario, Dwayne; Dichio, Danny; Djekanovic, Srdjan; Dunivant, Todd; Edu, Maurice; Edwards, Brian; Elkinson, Kilian; Eskandarian, Alecko; Fellinga, Lesley; Freeman, Hunter; Frei, Stefan; Gala, Gabe; Garcia, Nick; Gargan, Dan; Gaudet, Derek; Gerba, Ali; Goldthwaite, Kevin; Gomez, Emmanuel; Guevara, Amado; Harden, Ty; Harmse, Kevin; Hemming, Tyler; Henry, Doneil; Hscanovics, Raivis; Ibrahim, Abbe: Ibrahim, Fuad; James, Julius; Joseph, Nane; Kocic, Milos; LaBrocca, Nick; Lombardo, Andrea; Marshall, Tyrone; Melo, Joey; Mista; Monsalve, David; Mulrooney, Richard; Nagamura, Paulo; O’Brien, Ronnie; Peterson, Jacob; Pozniak, Chris; Reda, Marco; Reynolds, Sam; Ricketts, Rohan; Robert, Laurent; Robinson, Carl; Rosenlund, Tyler; Ruiz, Carlos; Samuel, Collin; Santos, Maicon; Sanyang, Amadou; Saric, Martin; Serioux, Adrian; Smith, Jarrod; Smith, Johann; Stamatopoulos, Kenny; Sutton, Greg; Usanov, Maxim; Vélez, Marco; Vitti, Pablo; Welsh, Andy; White, O’Brian; Wynne, Marvell.

The total number is 75 by my estimation (and it is good and likely I may have missed a few). Only ten from last season remain. In fact only one player remains from 2007, bit player Gabe Gala. No team in MLS has had that kind of squad turnover in that time, nothing even close to it. Only three players Toronto FC picked in four MLS Super Drafts remain with the club. They are Stefan Frei, O’Brian White and Joseph Nane. A number of TFC castoffs (Buddle, Casey, Cronin, Cunningham, Dunivant, Marshall and Wynne all come to mind) have gone on to very successful careers as starters on their new MLS clubs.

And of course there were the busts. Fellinga, Gerba, Lombardo (still scored one of the best TFC goals ever against Aston Villa!), Robert, Ruiz and the pony tailed Argentinean Pablo Vitti all spring to mind. Vitti stands out for me for some reason. He of course gave us a couple of step-overs and a couple of goals for $200,000 of salary cap space.

And speaking of the salary cap…. dare I say it but Mo has managed this part of his job the way a lot of us play Football Manager on our PC’s. Of those 75 players listed above a lot of them (due respect to them of course) were grossly overpaid by league standards for what they were able to contribute on the pitch. I do not blame a player for making as much as they can, but I do blame Mo for not handling this most important part of his job as well as he should have. In a league with player cash in short supply there is no more important skill for a GM to have than in finding the “balance” in the cap. You need to balance the competing objectives of satisfying players with their individual pay packets while at the same time not overpaying for talent, signing smart contracts that don’t mortgage the club’s future and finding bargains at the bottom of the salary scale that can contribute on the pitch.

And even if Toronto FC makes the playoffs this season or makes a run in the Champions League does anyone really think that the days of turmoil and roster turnover are over? If Mo stays there probably will be, based on four years of first hand experience, as much turnover as there has always been. I feel strongly that this is the primary reason why I would like Mo to leave at the end of 2010 no matter how things go.

Preki is another matter. I will talk about him later this week.

I hope to hear your comments.

1 comments

  1. I joined this chant last season…. mismanagement and failure in toooo many departments; all apparently the requirements of his job!

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