Toronto FC hires Ali Curtis as new general manager ahead of 2019 season
Toronto FC has named Ali Curtis to be its new general manager after Tim Bezbatchenko departed to pursue other opportunities, the club has announced.
Bezbatchenko is reportedly moving to the Columbus Crew to oversee that organization's business and technical efforts. That opened up the door for Curtis, who in addition to working in the league office also enjoyed a successful stint with the New York Red Bulls as their sporting director.
"[Curtis'] work with the Red Bulls saw the club become Supporters' Shield winners, while strengthening their academy and the pathway for youth players to become professionals," said TFC president Bill Manning. "We needed to move quickly and decisively and we are excited to get right to work with Ali, beginning with next week's draft."
In addition to the Supporters' Shield title in 2015, the Red Bulls also topped the Eastern Conference standings the following season. His tenure also saw the organization's second team, NYRB II, record the best regular season record during the 2016 USL campaign, as well as win that year's USL Cup.
Curtis left the Red Bulls just prior to the 2017 campaign. It was widely perceived that Curtis lost a power struggle with then-manager Jesse Marsch, though in an interview with ESPN FC shortly after his departure, Curtis said: "We just had some different views, and it was best for us to part ways, for me to go my way and Red Bulls to move on."
Curtis has been trying to get back into the game ever since, and was among those who interviewed to be the GM of the U.S men's national team, a position that eventually went to Earnie Stewart. He was also a candidate to join Columbus.
Curtis will have big shoes to fill given the success that TFC had under Bezbatchenko, which included a domestic treble in 2017 that included a Canadian Championship, Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup. But the Reds suffered through a difficult 2018 campaign, one that saw it fail to qualify for the MLS postseason.
"With this exciting change comes the departure of a valued executive and friend, but we understand Tim's desire to pursue a new challenge," said Manning. "On behalf of everyone at Toronto FC we want to thank Tim for his contributions to the club over the past five years. Tim played a big part in helping TFC win multiple trophies and we wish Tim, Annie and their family all the best in the future."
Following a standout collegiate career at Duke University, one in which he won the MAC award during his senior season, Curtis spent three seasons as a player in MLS with the now defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny, D.C. United and the Dallas Burn (now known as FC Dallas). He scored nine goals and added eight assists in 65 league appearances during his professional career.