TORONTO — Toronto FC GM Mo Johnston and head coach Preki have been relieved of their duties as part of a major front-office shake-up, the club announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
Assistant Nick Dasovic, a former Canadian international who nearly coached Canada to a berth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was named as interim coach. Academy director Earl Cochrane will temporarily take over Johnston's managerial duties and will be assisted by former player Jim Brennan.
Dasovic becomes the first Canadian-born coach to lead TFC. No changes were made to TFC's assistant coaching staff.
“Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as we had hoped,” said Tom Anselmi, executive vice president of TFC's parent company, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.
Anselmi said that the hunt for a permanent head coach and GM would begin immediately and that Dasovic and Cochrane would remain candidates.
News of a potential shakeup emerged over the last few days when it was reported that a “mutiny” among the coaching staff, led by Dasovic, had occurred. The assistants reportedly met with management to discuss the club’s performance and Preki. Other reports claimed Dasovic had been removed and reassigned to a scouting role.
Once sitting in the sixth playoff spot, Toronto have fallen into ninth, five points out, and are mired in a six-game winless streak. They have been shut out in five of their last six league games, and with just six games left, the team is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
“It is all about the games we have left,” Dasovic said. “We want to get in the playoffs and get through in the [CONCACAF Champions League]. I’m looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully we can pull another Salt Lake out of the bag, like they did last year.”
Following a 1-0 loss at home to league-worst D.C. United last Saturday, the club was booed off the pitch at BMO Field. A clearly exasperated Preki fired off a number of excuses for his team’s lethargic play, including blaming team management for not shifting the start times of games.
Preki, a former MLS Coach of the Year, was hired by Johnston before the 2010 season to lead the club to its first playoff berth after taking Chivas USA to the playoffs three straight seasons. Despite a focus on hard work and fitness, the team hasn’t played well of late, and Preki has had few answers to address his team’s offensive ineptitude.
Johnston, who joined the franchise prior to its inaugural season in 2007, began as the team’s coach. He spent one season on the sidelines before moving upstairs to focus on his management duties. Under his tenure, the team has a record of 32-50-31 in MLS play, failing to make the playoffs in the first three seasons and has had four coaches in four seasons.
After failing to reach the postseason last season by one point, MLSE hinted that nothing short of a playoff berth in 2010 would be acceptable.
Anselmi said he had talked to the players on Tuesday morning and that “there was unanimous support for the moves that were made."
Added Dasovic: “Everybody’s playing for spots for next year. [But] I want the guys to relax, to enjoy their football. They’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s not rocket science. It’s just dedication, hard work, everybody pulling together.