Ryan Nelsen fired as Toronto FC coach
Ryan Nelsen is out as Toronto FC's head coach. TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko announced on Sunday that the club had parted ways with Nelsen and assistants Jim Brennan and Fran O'Leary.
Assistant GM Greg Vanney, a former MLS and U.S. national team defender, will step into the top job on a full-time basis.
"Over the past 13 matches we've won three games," Bezbatchenko said at an afternoon news conference. "I know we can get more out of our guys."
The moves came a day after TFC dropped a 3-0 decision at home to Eastern Conference rival New England. Following the loss, Nelsen ripped Bezbatchenko, who earlier in the week had publicly challenged his high-profile team to perform better.
"Absolutely not," Nelsen said when asked if Bezbatchenko's comments had been helpful. "It affected the guys."
"I think they're excuses," Bezbatchenko said of Nelsen's remarks.
Toronto FC, which entered MLS in 2007, has never qualified for postseason play. TFC is currently tied on points with Columbus for the fifth and final playoff spot in the East, although it owns the tiebreaker with one more win and has played two fewer games.
The club spent $100 million to acquire a pair of designated players -- U.S. star Michael Bradley and former England international Jermain Defoe -- during the offseason. But the team had improved only marginally in 2014 under Nelsen, who was in his second season at the helm.
The big money moves last winter -- orchestrated by Tim Leiweke, the chief of TFC owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment -- didn't address the team's woeful defense.
But Nelsen, a holdover from Toronto FC's previous administration who arrived in 2013 with no previous coaching experience at any level, was always going to be on a short leash.
Saturday's result, and Nelsen's comments afterward, tuned that leash into a noose, even if Bezbatchenko insisted his firing "wasn't personal."
"Mostly," he said, "it's about results,"
Bezbatchenko confirmed reports that the club had received an offer for Defoe, and said while no decision had been made, the club was discussing it internally.
Vanney becomes the Reds' ninth manager in eight seasons. In addition to his duties as assistant GM, he was also TFC's academy director. He served in a similar capacity with Real Salt Lake from 2008-11, and was an assistant coach with Chivas USA from 2011-12.