Toronto FC Hires Ali Curtis as GM; Bezbatchenko Reportedly Leaves for Columbus

The front-office carousel is in motion across a few MLS clubs.
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The front-office carousel is in motion across a few MLS clubs.

Toronto FC has hired former New York Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis as its general manager, with Tim Bezbatchenko reportedly leaving the role for a job with the Columbus Crew. The void Bezbatchenko will fill in Columbus is two-fold: He's expected to lead both the sporting and business sides, stepping into the roles vacated by Gregg Berhalter and Andy Loughnane. Berhalter, who doubled as manager and sporting director, left to become the U.S. men's national team head coach, while Loughnane, who ran business operations for the Crew, will follow owner Anthony Precourt to the new Austin FC franchise.

Curtis enjoyed success with the Red Bulls, where his famous, intricate plan helped the club win the 2015 Supporters' Shield. He also oversaw the creation of New York Red Bulls II, which won the 2016 USL Shield and Cup double. He's been out of the league since before the 2017 season, when he and the Red Bulls had a falling out and takes charge at one of MLS's top teams–at least on paper. TFC followed what was at the time the best season in league history and an MLS Cup title by missing the playoffs in 2018 after coming up short in the Concacaf Champions League final in the spring.

"Ali brings great MLS experience having been a player, an executive in the league office and as New York Red Bulls sporting director," TFC president Bill Manning said. "His work with the Red Bulls saw the club become Supporters’ Shield winners, while strengthening their academy and the pathway for youth players to become professionals. We needed to move quickly and decisively and we are excited to get right to work with Ali, beginning with next week’s draft.” 

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Curtis follows Bezbatchenko, who oversaw the signings of, among others, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco and lifted the club to the success it so sorely craved after years of futility. His final act was signing former MLS Defender of the Year Laurent Ciman, who had left LAFC in the middle of last season for Dijon in France only to return to MLS less than six months later.

Bezbatchenko, an Ohio native, appears to be headed to the Crew, who have new life in Columbus after the sale of the club to a local ownership group spearheaded by the Haslam and Edwards families was agreed to in principle. His first order of business will be hiring a coach. Former Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter has been widely reported to be the choice to succeed Berhalter.