TORONTO, Canada—The last few days have been filled with love and plaudits for the first true leader of Toronto FC—Greg Vanney—as he announced that he’s stepping down from his role as Head Coach and Technical Director. We all have fond memories of Vanney and what he accomplished in his six-plus campaigns with the club.
Yes, he was the first to bring us MLS glory.
Yes, he was the first to bring us to the edge of continental glory.
But first and foremost, he was the first to bring us legitimacy as a club.
The first eight seasons saw no less than EIGHT field bosses for the Not As New As They Used To Be Toronto FC. Before Vanney, the coach’s area had become centre stage on Open Mic Night: some performances better than others, but none committed to memory.
It took Vanney just over four seasons to equal the win total of the previous eight men over eight seasons. From April 2019...
If @torontofc can hang on to win here, it will be their 84th win in the Greg Vanney era. Which matches the total of the previous 8 head coaches combined. In 109 less matches #TFCLive @LukeWileman @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @JohnMolinaro pic.twitter.com/O1vT9izmeo— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) April 20, 2019
And where the record finishes today, with Vanney logging a clean 250 matches in all competitions...
How did the numbers break down by competition? Vanney’s record in cup competitions was remarkable...
But his work in the Regular Season was equally impressive. Toronto FC finished in the Top 10 of the Supporter’s Shield race four of his six seasons (a feat never before reached under the first eight coaches, even in much smaller leagues).
Another amazing stat to help quantify what the Vanney Era has meant to Toronto FC and its fans: over the past five seasons, Toronto has finished top-two in TWELVE different competitions.
But it was knockout games where Vanney earned his legacy; first getting to them, and then succeeding in them.
Perhaps my favourite Greg Vanney number is this: he won his first ELEVEN two-legged ties with the club. On some of the biggest nights in club history, supporters could be forgiven for almost considering the outcome a foregone conclusion.
One last legacy of Vanney’s was to erase an existing one.
Toronto FC had become infamous for always conceding late, and tripping just before the finish line. Under Vanney, the tables were literally turned, and the Reds became the club with the killer instinct beyond the 85th minute.
Reds fans will be forgiven if their emotions are split this week. Appreciation for what we had, and perhaps a touch of trepidation for what may lay ahead.