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Toronto FC hire MLS player relations guru Tim Bezbatchenko as new GM

Sep 20, 2013, 11:42 AM EDT

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With many expecting an established current MLS General Manager to step into the vacant role at Toronto FC, the Reds threw out another curve-ball with this hire.

Please welcome Toronto FC’s new GM, Tim Bezbatchenko.

Following former GM Kevin Payne’s departure, CEO of MLSPE Tim Leiweke has been searching for the right man to lead Toronto forward, and he has decided that Bezbatchenko is the right man for the job.

“Tim brings an analytical mind to the job along with the best understanding that I’ve seen of the salary cap and how to manage it,” Leiweke said. “He knows how to build a team that will win long-term and he believes, like we do, that his vision will have an immediate and positive impact on this team. We are excited about adding Tim’s knowledge, experience and relationships within MLS to Toronto FC and we now look forward to focusing together on the most important job: putting a winning team on the pitch for Toronto FC supporters.”

Leiweke also referred to the his new GM as a “capologist” and recognizes that the move, seen by many as controversial, is crucial to the future success of the club. Rumors had been circulating that Real Salt Lake’s experienced GM Garth Lagerwey had been lined up for the post, but TFC have gone for an entirely different candidate to help turn their ailing fortunes on the pitch around.

(MORE: Payne’s time at Toronto ends after nine months)

Bezbatchenko, a 31-year-old attorney, has spent the last three years dealing with player contracts as the Senior Director of Player Relations and Competition with MLS. And with TFC keen to manage their cap space efficiently after several turnovers of managers and players over the past few seasons, Bezbatchenko has vast levels of experience dealing with the challenges that lie ahead.

Make no mistake about it, this is a huge gamble in many ways for TFC, but many would argue that with the young executives close links to league HQ and his expertise in drafting and negotiating contracts, he already possesses many of the skills needed to step into the role of GM.

It is clear that TFC want to move forward and with Bezbatchenko now in charge and head coach Ryan Nelsen showing promise in his first full year as a coach, more fresh changes are on the way at BMO Field. It is obvious that one of the main reasons Bezbatchenko was hired is to help with the huge roster overhaul that should take place at the end of this current season. With players sitting on the sidelines on huge contracts up in Ontario, some pretty bad personnel decisions have been made throughout the last two to three managerial regimes and now Leiweke and Nelsen are left with one hand tied behind their backs, in terms of players sitting around on astronomical wages with no interest in leaving.

Bezbatchenko has one heck of a job on his hands, as he aims to turn one of MLS’ biggest under-achievers into a title contending side.

Good luck.

  1. danielofthedale - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    I think the big winner in this could be RSL. If this means Lagerway stays in Utah that has to increase the odds that Kries stays too and spurns NYCFC.

  2. drewvt6 - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    I think this hire has nothing to do with Kreis turning down NYCFC and everything to do with Toronto being a joke of an organization.

    • danielofthedale - Sep 20, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Well of course TFCs hire has nothing to do with Jason Kries. But I do think this has a knock effect to RSL. The partnership between a manager and GM can not be understated. If Lagerway had left to go to TFC Kries could easily have taken the money to go to NYCFC and say he did not want to break in a new working relationship with the most important coworker he has. By Lagerway staying it makes much header for for Kries to leave a stable, successful situation in Salt Lake for a total unknown in the Big Apple.

      • talgrath - Sep 20, 2013 at 5:07 PM

        Just because TFC is no longer looking, doesn’t mean Lagerway is a sure bet to stay at RSL. We have a whole off season for someone else to offer him a pile of cash.

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