It looks as if it will be a new year, new Toronto FC in 2019. Last week, reports out of Columbus, from Dispatch reporter Michael Arace, popped up linking the club’s GM Tim Bezbatchenko to a job with the Crew.
They seemed a little far-fetched, beyond Columbus being his birthplace, there appeared to be little reason for Bez to leave Toronto FC for the Crew. He had, after all, just had his contract extended and was responsible for building the team that led to the best season in league history.
However, today Sam Stejskal, who is the national writer for MLSSoccer.com, doubled down on those rumours, reporting that Bezbatchenko is off to Columbus and Toronto is already in talk with his replacement.
Sources: Tim Bezbatchenko is leaving Toronto FC to become president of Columbus Crew SC. TFC are in advanced discussions with former New York Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis to replace Bezbatchenko as GM. @MichaelArace1 was first on Bez to Columbus.— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) January 2, 2019
The reported replacement, according to Stejskal, is Ali Curtis. Curtis was the sporting director for the New York Red Bulls from 2014 until 2017 when he left the club reportedly due to disagreements with then Red Bull coach Jesse Marsch.
However, during his time with the club they never missed the playoffs, won the 2015 Supporters’ Shield and finished first in the Eastern Conference twice. He also helped in the improvement of one, if not the best, academy and development systems in the league.
For Bezbatchenko, the move is reportedly a promotion from the GM role he had with Toronto FC to a President role with Columbus. According to Stejskal he would be responsible for both the business and soccer side of the club.
Bezbatchenko was responsible for building teams that accomplished a lot of firsts for Toronto FC. He was the first GM to deliver a playoff team, built the first team to get to a final in both MLS and CCL and of course the treble winning side of 2017.
He was also crucial in the recruitment and signing of marquee players, not just for the club but the league itself, like Jermain Defoe, Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.
If made official, the move would certainly make the rest of Toronto FC’s offseason far more intriguing as they try to recover from a disappointing 2018 season under new leadership.