As linked on the SSF this morning, there’s a growing consensus that Kevin Payne and Toronto FC did alright at the MLS SuperMegaAmazingDraft yesterday by swapping their four hundred picks for Garber’s Monopoly Money, and still walking out with Kyle Bekker, a player that Ben Rycroft believes is underrated only because he’s Canadian.

I was struck though by Payne’s remarks though at the draft:

“We really wanted [Emery Welshman],” Payne said. “We thought there was a chance we might lose him. But we were okay with other guys that we wanted. It’s just trying to understand what the probabilities are.” Bekker, the MVP of the MLS Combine, saw his stock rise dramatically, and Payne was thrilled to land the Canadian U-23 international.

“Technically he’s very, very good,” said Payne. “He’s so sound technically, he can play quickly. But tactically, he’s way ahead of anybody else in the draft, and his understanding of what’s going on in the middle of the park.”

Kevin Payne is the Toronto FC president. I’m not an insider MLS guy (no matter what I tell my mom) but it seemed to me yesterday that most of the guys doing the talking in the draft were head coaches. Columbus sent out Robert Warzycha to give some press quote fodder. Ditto with Revs coach Jay Heaps.

I’m thinking Payne may be more GM than president. Most MLS presidents either share the soccer side of the operation with the business side, or tend to front office business operations exclusively and leave the rest to the GM (as in LA with Bruce Arena). Nothing is really fixed. These are, after all, mere corporate titles.

Still, I and others had it on good information ahead of MLSE hiring Payne that Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment did not want a guy meddling with the business side of things, and so Kevin Payne seems to have been their Soccer Guy pick. This was, and now is…disappointing. The last thing Toronto FC needed was yet another self-styled football expert coming in and showing everyone how to make football pie. What they needed was to revamp TFC as an organization, one prone to cliques, politicking, and petty subterfuge (and in some cases, particularly with regard to agents, something a little more nefarious). Hiring a suitable soccer person and then demarcating a clear line between the soccer and business side of the operation would have been the next step in establishing a professional club ready to compete in Major League Soccer—not League Two, and not the Eredivisie.

Even more alarming was learning from Aaron Stollar this week that Payne’s critics almost always point to his need to control all aspects of the soccer side of the operation.

What does this mean for Toronto FC? Essentially that TFC may be without a president. Instead, they have a GM and a head coach. Which is fine I guess, but not what the club really needed.

Comments (7)

  1. I disagree, this is exactly what the club needs and its a more sensible way to operate than having a “manager” handle everything. It’s basically the continental style sporting director / coach model as opposed to the stand alone manager role. This model isn’t as rare in MLS as you are making it sound. I can understand the concern about having some business guy sticking his hands in the pie, but this isn’t just a business guy, this is a real soccer executive who knows how things are done.

    This is Kevin Payne FC, make no mistake about it. All the hires are his people, he’s stated he has last say on personnel decisions, and expects certain things of the coach. For once everyone is on the same page and following one plan.

    He certainly has his detractors but he left DCU after a long period and was very well liked by the fans. On balance, I’ll take someone with his track record any day of the week.

    • I agree with Alex. And I gotta say, I don’t really understand what Richard is saying TFC needs.

      “What they needed was to revamp TFC as an organization, one prone to cliques, politicking, and petty subterfuge (and in some cases, particularly with regard to agents, something a little more nefarious). Hiring a suitable soccer person and then demarcating a clear line between the soccer and business side of the operation would have been the next step in establishing a professional club ready to compete in Major League Soccer”
      Payne is the soccer guy, seperate from the business side. With him calling all the shots (as opposed to some people being hired by Anselmi, some by Cochrane, some by ) there is less chance of these destructive cliques you are mentioning. What am I missing Mr. Whittall?

  2. lol!

    I like how you guys have such an opinion on how things are run and say this “isn’t what TFC needed” when they’ve not played a game under the new prez or head coach… especially after such a succesful draft (as most pundits are saying).

    • Hey, it’s not like the club has a 6 year track record of variations on the same theme to look at!

  3. Disagree. Exactly what tfc needs. Payne to me has a clear vision and a plan. I don’t care what title you give him. I think this is where mlse got in wrong in the past. Too many titles given to people who didn’t know what to do with them. Anyone who doubts Payne had a plan dust watch him do exactly what he said he would do at the draft. Walk out with more than 2 players. That money is as good as a player. Tfc may have finally got it right.

  4. Payne is moving in the right direction and will fill when needed,the proof will be in the pooding,positive with all moves so far

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