TORONTO – There will be no coaching change at Toronto FC this offseason.
Rumors swirled on Tuesday that Toronto FC, ousted in the Knockout Round of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, were looking at former NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis, who parted ways with the expansion team on Monday.
But new Toronto FC president Bill Manning, who worked closely with Kreis at Real Salt Lake, confirmed on Tuesday at the club’s end-of-season press conference that TFC would be opting for consistency this offseason and sticking with current manager Greg Vanney, who led the team to a 15-15-4 record and the final playoff spot in the East.
“No," was Manning's response when asked if the club was considering a 10th different manager heading into their 10th MLS season in 2016.
But he did admit having a conversation with Kreis on Monday night.
“I thought about the future of this franchise, the history,” Manning said at Toronto FC's end-of-season availability. “We've never had [a coach] that's started two seasons in a row. Greg has coached 44, 45 games. The team has improved. [Greg] deserves the opportunity to continue what he started.
“He wants to prove that he can build this season into a championship contender, and I'm going to give him that."
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In Vanney's first full season in charge, Toronto FC finished with a 15-15-4 record. That was good enough to earn a sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and first postseason berth, but Toronto's time in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs was short lived after a 3-0 loss last week to the rival Montreal Impact in the Knockout Round.
Kreis, meanwhile, missed out on making it to the postseason after leading the expansion side to a 10-17-7 record and eighth-place finish in the East, 12 points shy of the final playoff spot Toronto claimed.
While the year did not go as planned for Kreis, he previously enjoyed much success at Real Salt Lake. He helped that club win the MLS Cup title in 2009 and built it into one of the league's most competitive clubs for several years. Manning knows from first-hand experience the type of job Kreis is capable of after working alongside him as RSL's president, but he understands the pitfalls that can come from pulling the trigger too soon on a young coach.
“I joined RSL in April of 2008. We finished 10-10-10 and RSL fans were screaming for his head. They wanted Jason out,” said Manning. ”I liked Jason a lot, thought he had the tools to be a really good coach. The next year we wound up 11-12-7, but I felt we were building something. Fans were screaming, 'The guy has no experience, he's too stubborn, and he's bad tactically.' All that stuff ... we wound up winning the championship.”
“Sometimes it's easy to say, 'Fire someone,'” Manning continued. “But had I fired Jason Kreis, RSL wouldn't of had the history they have. And so I look at this scenario, and I find [it] very similar. With another season, with the group that we've built and fine tuning, Greg can be a very good coach in this league.”
It was welcome news for Vanney, who faced the press after Manning did on Tuesday. Vanney exhaled with a “phew,” partly in jest, after being told that Manning had confirmed his position to media members just moments before.
“It's very comforting," Vanney went on to say. "We put a lot of time and energy into this club over the past couple of years. I care deeply about the success of the team.
"I'm excited about our future."