Toronto FC: Biggest upgrade and worst downgrade in franchise history

Over a decade after their MLS debut, Toronto FC has faced numerous ups and downs. Just what were the club’s best upgrade and worst downgrade?

The Toronto FC are the third team for our next edition of the series. Since their debut in 2007, Toronto has appeared in three MLS Cup Finals, winning one in 2017. They made the CONCACAF Champions League final, won the Supporters’ Shield, and seven Canadian Championships.

The Reds established itself in one way. The club began its inaugural season with ticket sales at 14,000 on March 15, 2007. Those sales would set a league record. They currently have many support groups throughout BMO Field. Groups include; Kings in the North, the Original 109, the Red Patch Boys, the Tribal Rhythm Nation, and U-Sector.

The fans aren’t necessarily an upgrade, but their presence at the south end of the stadium says a lot. Today’s upgrade and downgrade involve two similar but different events. The first is a coaching change who helped the club, and the struggles from previous coaches, particularly one coach who was here at the start.

The biggest upgrade in TFC history

Toronto had no such luck in their early years in MLS. Things would turn around for the better for the franchise after 2014. The Reds would make multiple transactions, which helped them become one of the top teams in the league. They did their homework when they signed players who became faces of the team. The club managed to sign Jermain Defoe, Jozie Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Giovinco- all at different times.

Signing those elite players throttled Toronto to exciting playoff runs. However, the man TFC fans can thank for the clubs’ strong efforts is none other than Greg Vanney.

There is no denying that hiring Vanney was a turning point for the organization. Toronto had gone through numerous coaching changes until Vanney was appointed in 2014.

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It wasn’t an easy start for Vanney. Fans questioned the hiring due to his lack of coaching experience. When TFC were embarrassed in the first playoff game, president Bill Manning considered replacing him. Since then, he’s been an integral part of TFC’s success.

He would coach the Reds to back-to-back MLS Cup appearances, winning in 2017. That same season, Vanney was the recipient of the MLS Coach of the Year Award. To date, Vanney’s coaching record to date is 100-52-75 in 227 games coached. His 100 career coaching wins are 82 more wins than any other manager in the dark days before 2014.

The upgrade: Ryan Nelsen to Greg Vanney as Toronto FC’s head coach. 

The worst downgrade in TFC history

TFC’s decision to hire two men with two very different coaching philosophies is a starting point. Then, there was the draft in 2009, which hurt the franchise for years. Fans shouldn’t be reminded of the acquisition of Canadian soccer star Dwayne De Rosario, who was later dealt with New York for, well, pretty much nothing.

Since TFC’s most significant upgrade was a coaching hire, let’s look at the past coaches who barely survived more than two seasons. Some great soccer players hang up the cleats to coach once their playing days are over. While great players don’t always make the transition from player-to-coaching well, that quickly became the case for MLSE. They announced Mo Johnston, a former MLS player, as the club’s first head coach.

Management’s first coaching hire will always be a questionable one. The Scottish coach had no talent to be on the sidelines, leading the team to a 6-17-7 record in 2007. He took his inconsistencies from the sidelines to the directors’ box when the regrettable decision was made to promote him.

Johnston served as the Director of Soccer and Club Manager until September 2010. He was relieved of his duties along with Predrag “Preki” Radosavljevic, who replaced Johnston as head coach.

The downgrade: Toronto FC hiring Mo Johnston as head coach then Director of Football.

Next: 3 takeaways from disappointing draw vs. D.C. United

What are your thoughts on the Toronto FC’s top moments in franchise history? Is there one that should be at the top of the list? What was the most forgettable one for you? Let us know in the comments below.