Greg Vanney - wearing scarf
USA Today Sports

Toronto FC's real talisman? The story behind Greg Vanney's lucky playoff scarf

TORONTO — Greg Vanney says he's not a superstitious man, but he does like a routine.

Despite the climate-controlled environment at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday night, as his Toronto FC battled with Atlanta United for the Eastern Conference championship, Vanney steadfastly wore a scarf pitchside.

And not just any scarf.

A dapper, two-tone gray number with red accents, the neckwear has been seen in every round of these Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. It was gifted to him by a Greek family that runs Dion 1967, a neckwear company in the Toronto area.

SeatGeek has great deals for future MLS matches

GET TICKETS Official Ticketing Partner of Major League Soccer

“I run into people at Starbucks every now and then,” Vanney explained on Saturday. “And I go there so often that people become friends. [One said], ‘Hey, we have a mill that’s right here in the Vaughan area; we make scarves,’ so they invited me down. This was in 2017. Ties, scarves, things like that."

When he visited, the scarf caught his eye.

“I really liked this one and he said, ‘It looks like it will fit with that suit that you have,’ so I took it," Vanney recalled. "A lot of people actually compliment on it. So I wore it the first few games because it was cold. And then in the stadium [in Atlanta] it wasn’t so cold, I was asking, ‘Should I still wear it?’ because it doesn’t really make sense indoors to wear a scarf, but we had to go with it and we got through another game.”

Apparently, Vanney doesn't need to wear the scarf throughout the match, but merely make sure it's pitchside. Here he's pictured without it during last Wednesday's Eastern Conference final. | USA Today Sports Images

Toronto have won all three matches this postseason where Vanney has worn the scarf.

“It’s more of a routine than a superstition,” maintained the TFC coach. “I don’t know if I believe in luck, but as athletes and coaches sometimes we believe in routines, so putting the scarf on is a routine. … W’ll go with that.”

The rule seems to be not that it must stay on, but that it is put on in the first place.

“It was hot and I just needed to breathe a little bit, so I took it off,” admitted Vanney, promising it will emerge once more on Nov. 10 in Seattle. ““It will be back. I hear it’s going to be a little cooler than it was inside in Atlanta.”

Not superstitious, eh? In the past, Vanney has not shied away from having such potential good luck charms in his proverbial pocket.

There was a salmon shirt and one that appeared to have little cloud designs, or something to that effect. There was a suit-tie combo sported on previous TFC runs. And then there is the matter of some trinkets and/or coins from his children.

“I had three of them that I carried in my pocket,” laughed Vanney. “Those are in my bag still. They’re not actually in my pocket.”