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What a New Team President Would Mean for Toronto FC

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Bringing in a new club president would be more than just a distraction for Toronto FC, it would shake the very fabric of the club.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

You've got to hand it to Toronto FC, they really have a knack for distracting people from the team's awful on-pitch performances.

Just as fans were beginning to digest the cold hard truth: that the team was played off the pitch in the first half of the Dallas encounter, and does not look even remotely close to a playoff contending side with this horrendous early-season form, a juicy news story popped up to momentarily divert everyone's attention. TFC is actively looking for a new president, and with reports of both Umberto Gandini and Roberto Bettega in the running, MLSE has once again managed to make it look like they actually have a strategy in place, or at the very least are looking for men with the right kind of accolades to lead the team to future glory. But what would a new team president mean for the men currently in charge? How about for the team as a whole, not to mention the Yankee General and his SLCESV (Supreme Leadership Council of Elderly Soccer Veterans)- at least I think I got that right...

Tim Leiweke: This whole hunt for a president reeks of Tim Leiweke. The man at the top, at least until a TBD date later this year, is likely leading this charge for a full-blown TFC leader. While Kurt Larson claims MLSE has no intention of hiring a president until Leiweke is replaced, it's hard to believe there is absolutely no substance to these rumors. MLSE appears to clearly be targeting certain individuals for TFC President as of this moment, regardless of when they actually intend on bringing them in. MLSE may be involving Big Tim in this hunt, or leaving him out of it- the educated guess would be that he's very much involved (and possibly even initiated the process). Leiweke was one of the first MLSE leaders to care about soccer, and the working assumption seems to be that he intends on having someone in place to keep TFC on MLSE's radar when he's gone.  While we don't know exactly when Leiweke will actually vacate his position, with a new TFC president in place he should be able to slowly take his foot off the proverbial TFC gas pedal, and hand over the reigns as the CEO starts cleaning out his desk.

Tim Bezbatchenko: I can only assume that a new TFC president would walk into an office filled with paperwork documenting TFC's many successes to date in MLS. Given that, one of his first tasks in his new position would likely involve clearing the nothing off his desk, in order to make room for his two microscopes. Little Tim would be under microscope #1, while Greg Vanney would be the subject of the second. Timmy B's job may be protected to a certain extent by three (relatively weak) shields: the first being Leiweke telling the new president he personally hired Bez and has faith the GM will deliver given a little more time, the second being his insider knowledge of MLS and ability to impart that wisdom upon the new team leader, and the third being the fact that a new president likely would not have someone else in mind to immediately take up the position of GM of an MLS team. That being said, Tim Bezbatchenko has reason to worry. His blockbuster DP moves, combined with a stadium expansion (although that may not have been entirely his decision), have led to inflated expectations and little room for error. I mean, a new President could always read the MLS rules himself (as Google, or Bradley, could translate them for him), or even just make the rules up in his head- that's what the league seems to do half the time anyway. Bezbatchenko is not indispensable- he knows it, and a new president would know it... and if things are going poorly when a new president steps in, the GM would likely have to show an intent to change the team (which may mean the dreaded 10th coach in ten years) in order to retain his role at the club.

Greg Vanney: A new Toronto FC president would also have some concerns regarding the club's first team coach. After wikipedia'ing Vanney to learn of his credentials, and spitting out his coffee upon reading the bloody bad TFC record under the head coach, it's hard to imagine the new man in charge would have a huge amount of patience for the TFC gaffer, regardless of the coach's ability to talk the talk and lay out his tactical strategy. If the team does not turn things around results-wise over the next few games (or at some point before a new president steps in), the powerful Paisano's most difficult decision would be whether to ask Bez to send Vanney packing, or to hand them both pink slips himself.

MB & the Leadership Council: Aside from sounding like a poorly chosen 70s band name, MB and the leadership council reportedly have significant say in the going-ons at TFC. The leadership council appears to have been the brainchild of Vanney and Bez, partly as an appeasement after stripping Steven Caldwell of his captaincy via phone call. So long as Vanney and Bez remain in managerial positions, all will remain the same in terms of player hierarchy and roles at TFC. Bradley also has the extra advantage of knowing Italian, so it's very possible the Toronto captain will team up with Giovinco and Il Presidente (should he be of Italian origin) and potentially exert even further influence over team affairs, much to the chagrin of those who think he's been given too much say already. Of course this also depends on the president's inclination to do things his way versus listening to advice from others. Should Vanney and Bez be kicked to the curb, a new coach would determine the player roles at TFC- and while it seems unlikely that they would take Bradley's captaincy away from him, the disbandment of the formalized leadership council could be something we witness, or hear about in a Larson article, in the club's future.

Sebastian Giovinco: This is where the move could pay dividends (should the president be Italian). Logically, the more Italians at the club, the more comfortable and secure Giovinco will feel in Toronto. The team was fortunate to have Bradley's multi-lingual abilities when Giovinco came in, providing someone the Atomic Ant could speak to, and most likely complain to, in his native language. I'm certain that in the event TFC hires an Italian president, he and Giovinco will share stories of the old country over a glass of Brunello while plotting the team's MLS dominance for years to come. Alright, maybe not- but at the very least, it should make Giovinco feel a little more attached to the team and hopefully be less concerned about learning a new language/culture and more concerned about performing well on the pitch. Giovinco has shown flashes of brilliance, including his absolute dominance in the second half of the Dallas game, and we'll need to see plenty more of that for TFC to truly become a contender in MLS.

Toronto FC: To be frank, I'm of the belief that this team needs a president. The CEO of MLSE shouldn't have to focus on TFC or put all his energy into improving the team. And the fans of TFC shouldn't have to be concerned about how much the new CEO of MLSE cares about soccer. The Raptors, Blue Jays, and Leafs all have "presidential" roles, and while the success of that leadership model has yet to be determined, it's hard to imagine that adding someone like Gandini or Bettega could do any further damage to a franchise that is still in great need of repair.