TORONTO – After years of being on opposing sides, Kevin Payne and Paul Mariner are working together with Toronto FC.
Payne was introduced Wednesday as the new president and general manager of Toronto FC after 17 years with D.C. United, while Mariner took over the role of head coach after Aron Winter departed midway through the 2012 season.
The 59-year-olds were opponents when Mariner was assistant coach with the New England Revolution from 2004 to 2009 and the past two years when the former England international was director of player development and then head coach with Toronto FC.
“I’ve known Kevin for the best part of 10 years.” Mariner told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “He’s a person I’ve admired from afar, but to have him part of our team now is fantastic.”
Payne left his post as president of D.C. United this week to take the job as TFC’s first president, a development the club hopes can turn its fortunes around on the field.
“It helps me a great deal,” Mariner said. “Everything is defined now. Each compartment or department can really function to the best of its ability. We’ve got a very, very experienced shoulder to, not so much to lessen the burden, but [to have someone] just to ask advice.”
Mariner took over as head coach and director of soccer operations on June 7, replacing Winter after the Reds lost nine of their first 10 league games. They finished with a record of 5-21-8 and missed the playoffs for the sixth season in a row.
“I just don’t think it’s all on the coach,” Payne told reporters on Wednesday. “The coach, unfortunately, gets too much blame when things go poorly and too much credit when things go well. It’s really much more of an organizational approach that produces success.
“I know Paul. I thought Paul did an outstanding job in New England working with Steve Nicol and I intend to spend a lot of time now with Paul and Earl [Cochrane, director of team and player operations] and try to really understand what’s the way forward for this group of guys. They obviously understand these players a lot better than I do.”
Payne had four MLS Cup winners with D.C. United, something Toronto can only dream about after six disappointing seasons from a competitive perspective.
“Kevin has been in some very good teams,” Mariner said. “He’s been in championship winning teams, the team has been dismantled and he’s rebuilt the team again. He’s probably the best person I could think of to be the president of this football club.”