Tuesday, November 03, 2009
TFC in '09 - Part I
In an exclusive EC three-part series, we examine where the 2009 Toronto FC season went so badly, and what needs to change as we look towards 2010. Today, we’ll examine the now vacant post of head coach, and the two men that held the title ’09. Part II will examine TFC ownership and general manager Mo Johnson. Part III will focus on the TFC roster.
PART I – Head Coach
Looking at the failure that was the 2009 season, much of the blame has been placed squarely on the shoulders of the team’s head coach. While Chris Cummins held the post for a majority of the season, it was with the “interim” tag attached to it, following the departure of John Carver.
Carver’s stint as TFC head coach lasted 39 games spread over two seasons. With TFC’s first coach, Mo Johnson, moving to a general manager-esque position with the team, Carver was able to manage the club to a 28.2 winning percentage. After being fined $750 by MLS for criticizing officials, Carver was conspicuously absent from the bench for the team’s next fixture, and then resigned for the always generic “personal reasons.” With TFC scrambling to quickly find a replacement, the club promoted first assistant coach, Chris Cummins in the lead spot, with his whole zero games management experience behind him.
Under Cummins, the club certainly appeared to become a better defensive club. TFC’s goals against dropped from 1.8GPG to 1.28GPG. However, two glaring issues surmise the Cummins era of TFC; substitutions, and subsequently, late goals allowed, and team cohesion. With Cummins reluctant to go to the bench often, TFC led MLS in goals allowed in the 76th minute and beyond, with 16. The league average was 9.06 goals. Worse still, TFC found the back of the net only twice once a game reached the 76th minute.
Even more surprising is how Toronto games were dictated by scoring first. TFC never lost a game in which they struck first, yet only claimed victory once despite conceding the first goal in 14 fixtures. To say that coaching was a weak spot for TFC in ’09 would be a drastic understatement.
Now that Cummins is gone, the aforementioned Mo Johnson has stated publicly that he wants the next person in the position to have MLS coaching experience. So much so, that people are wondering if will be a requirement of any applicant. With the coaching turnover in MLS so prevalent it would make a McDonald’s manager’s head spin, there are plenty of people that could fill the MLS experience need. However, one name has to quickly shoot towards the top of the list, with the recent news that DC United manager, Tom Soehn, will leave the club after this season, over an apparent unrest with his contract status, While, United certainly had a less-than-desirable season, but Soehn has the experience to coach and win in MLS. The MLS Cup title in ’08 and Supporter’s Shield title in ’07 speak to that. Furthermore, the way Soehn is leaving shows that a serious offer from another club could persuade Soehn to another club in 2010.
Can Mo Johnson and the MLSE ownership group make a respectable offer to bring Soehn, or another successful MLS coach to BMO field? Part II of the series will tackle that and other issues as it related to the front office of TFC.
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