The fear that Toronto FC will no longer be a top priority for MLSE after Tim Leiweke leaves may be diminished a bit today as it was reported that the club are in talks with Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey to be the new club president.
This would be a huge step in the right direction for a team who have had almost no MLS experience, or experience at all, in their front office since they opened their doors eight years ago. This lack of competence has consistently resulted in damaging moves for the club, and soured its reputation to no end.
Under Lagerwey, Real Salt Lake has been an exemplary organization, consistently finishing amongst the league's best. In his seven years with the club they won MLS Cup in 2009, and made the final last year. They also advanced to the Conference finals in 2008 and 2011 and were the runner up in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League.
As a President, he could be an ideal man to help Tim Bezbatchenko continue to develop as a General Manager. Bez showed plenty of promise this year as he made a number of intelligent MLS moves. However, he still has plenty to learn if this club is to reach the heights that were promised prior to last season.
It would also constitute the most MLS experience in the front office since Mo Johnson and Preki, otherwise known as the closest the team ever got to the playoffs. But this time there would certainly be more competence upstairs. This isn't the offseason coaching change that many around Toronto FC were looking for, but it could have a similar effect.
Lagerwey would also come in with plenty of connections, but not the connections that have been touted in the past. These would be of the MLS variety, and therefore even more important than the European ones from which the club continues to take pride but few results.
The move is far from a done deal however, while Lagerwey has mentioned that he would like to be a club president in the future there are no guarantees that the future is now. Evidently, Real Salt Lake will try very hard to renew his contract. If that doesn't happen, several other teams will likely be equally as interested. He may also make his decision based on who will be replacing Leiweke, otherwise known as how much pull he will have with ownership.
He is not the only person that Toronto is considering for the position, either. John Molinaro of Sportsnet is also saying that the club is considering Holger Osieck as an option. This is a household name in Canadian soccer, as it was the German coach who led Canada to victory at the 2000 Gold Cup. Osieck's last job was with Australia in 2013. He certainly wouldn't bring in the same MLS experience however.
They still have a lot to figure out, but the fact that Lagerwey is the individual Toronto FC have chosen indicates a step in the right direction in terms of mentality. Toronto FC may be reading the MLS manual as slowly as a first grader, but they are starting to figure things out.