Ryan Nelsen is the youngest manager Toronto FC has ever employed. Nelsen, born in October of 1977, is currently the youngest coach in Major League Soccer, ahead of Ben Olsen (born in May 1977) and Martin Rennie (born in May 1975).
The precedent for young managers is good in Major League Soccer; Olsen and Rennie’s successes are what Toronto FC is attempting to replicate at BMO Field.
Now, here’s a hypothetical: if Ryan Nelsen is frustrated at, say, Danny Califf’s poor clearance of a Juninho cross, does he use his last available substitution to put himself on the field?
Technically, Ryan Nelsen is Toronto FC’s most experienced defender and, probably, the best defender available in the first few weeks of action in MLS.
Ryan Nelsen is the first New Zealander to coach in Major League Soccer. He’s not the only Kiwi to suit up for an MLS outfit though – his time at D.C. United is shared with Jarrod Smith and Andrew Boyens, who both played for Toronto FC at some point.
Does Torsten Frings take orders from Ryan Nelsen, or do the two come up with a mutual understanding of seniority? I can’t wait to watch the two interact, that’s for sure.
Furthermore, does a young Canadian player getting his first national team call-up go to Nelsen for advice, or to the vastly more experienced Torsten Frings, who has played for a German national outfit that, nine times out of 10, could beat New Zealand?
Toronto FC has employed eight coaches in seven seasons: Mo Johnston, John Carver, Chris Cummins, Nick Dasovic, Preki, Aron Winter, Paul Mariner and, now, Ryan Nelsen – they have never employed a U.S. head coach, of which there are 12 in the league today.
Ryan Nelsen could, theoretically, be sold by QPR, making him the first coach to be sold to another club before even coaching the team he’s the coach of.
They say you should never hire your friends, so Kevin Payne hired his best friends! This is going to go swimmingly.
My lady friends assure me that Ryan Nelsen is the best-looking manager Toronto FC has ever employed, so there’s that, I suppose.
Do Queens Park Rangers players now refer to Nelsen by his last name, by "Nellie" as Kevin Payne and new assistant coach Fran O’Leary affectionately call him, or by his new moniker – "Coach?"
If Canada schedules a friendly against New Zealand, will Ryan Nelsen play against his own players? Would he be okay tackling Ashtone Morgan?
An even scarier thought – what if, in this hypothetical friendly, Nelsen accidently injures a Toronto FC player? It would be the first instance of a coach knocking his own player out of the game-day roster.
Does Ryan Nelsen own a black cat named after Sam Allardyce?
Ryan Nelsen seems to be the first head coach whose job it is to just coach the team. This is the first instance where a tangible hierarchy of clearly defined roles exist at Toronto FC. Nelsen’s role as coach is simply that – coach! This leaves Kevin Payne with the responsibility of putting the roster together, a real team effort, once and for all.
One must imagine that Nelsen’s contacts are far, far better than Paul Mariner's, in that the relationship of one student with another is better than a student and a teachers’ (unless it’s one of those student-teacher relationships).
This means we can realistically expect one English Premier League player during this January transfer window, probably from QPR – Danny Dichio can help, too.
Finally, and this is the most important question of all – will we see Ryan Nelsen at Toronto FC for longer than a year?
Lord knows we need to reduce that eight-in-seven ratio of ours.