After Toronto FC started 2012 so brightly, upsetting the LA Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals last March, they crashed to a 0-9 start in league play.
A Canadian championship and a May 26 win over Philadelphia weren’t enough to save head coach Aron Winter’s job, and Paul Mariner took over, starting 4-2-4 before a knee injury put Danny Koevermans’ on the shelf for the season. After that, the Reds went on a 0-10-4 skid to finish last at 5-21-8.
Then the shuffling started.
Kevin Payne left D.C. United in November to take over as general manager and president. Then Mariner departed and Ryan Nelsen ended his playing career with Queens Park Rangers to become head coach.
Payne is changing TFC’s culture, developing an ethic of work and accountability among the players. He wants to bring in younger, athletic players. He still has plenty of work to do to fill out a roster with plenty of slots still to fill.
As a top center back, Nelsen brings expertise to a troubled area. Scoring also is a need. Eric Hassli’s trade opened up a Designated Player spot and other moves created roster flexibility, but the remaining DPs, Torsten Frings and Koevermans, are question marks. Both are recovering from injury, and the transition to Nelsen is already in full swing during training camp.