Ryan Nelsen is out as coach of Toronto FC after just under two seasons in charge of the club, the club announced on Sunday. Greg Vanney, who has served as assistant general manager and director of the club's youth academy, will take over as head coach with immediate effect. Vanney will be Toronto's ninth head coach in the club's eight-year existence.
A New Zealand international and MLS Cup Champion with D.C. United in his playing days, Nelsen cut short the final season of his on-field career in order to take charge of the Canadian side, leaving Queens Park Rangers midway through 2012-2013 EPL season to join up with Toronto FC in advance of the 2013 MLS campaign. He led Toronto to a dismal 6-17-11 record in his first season, continuing the club's history of never having made the MLS Cup playoffs since joining the league as an expansion team in 2007.
This year was supposed to be different. The acquisitions of U.S. midfield linchpin Michael Bradley, English striker Jermain Defoe, and Brazilian striker Gilberto were supposed to turn the team into MLS Cup contenders. Instead, the team currently has a mediocre 9-9-6 record, sitting in 4th spot in the Eastern Conference. The team's position would put it into the playoffs for the first time in its history if the season ended today, but there are still 10 games remaining and the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union are not far behind.
Toronto's last game may have been the final straw for Nelsen, as the Reds suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of the New England Revolution. After the game, Nelsen expressed frustration with first-year GM Tim Bezbatchenko, saying comments made by the 32-year-old put the team under undue pressure.