The curtain was pulled back on TFC’s internal operations during this week’s episode of Footy Talks, as general manager Ali Curtis was on the call to talk all things Red.
Curtis is known to be a laconic figure, preferring to work on improvements for the organization from outside the spotlight. Thus, it was a treat for TFC fans to hear him talk so candidly about how management is working to keep the players focused and competitive.
The biggest talking point in sports has been how different organizations have handled not only player fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic, but team morale and identity as well. Given the circumstances, Curtis was confident that everyone in uniform is giving their all.
“We’ve put in a lot of different measures to maintain the fitness of our guys,” Curtis said. “They are working out six days a week, they have gym equipment, and we deliver them food, two meals a day. We are doing the best we can to stay connected so everyone still has the sense we are a team.”
The conversation naturally turned toward the future, and how TFC is trying to stay ahead of the game when it comes time for the league the resume.
“It’s difficult because there is so much uncertainty,” Curtis said. “Right now it’s just trying to keep our positioning, but at the same time anticipate some things that might come around the corner.”
In particular, he has been encouraging both players and staff to find strength in novel ways — to find opportunity in crisis.
“Use this time to connect with family in a way you never had before. It’s therapeutic, it’s healthy, it’s going to make us better when we get back.”
Curtis talked briefly about a few of the players on the squad, praising Jozy Altidore for his overall leadership and composure and how he handles problems within the team, as well as Jonathan Osorio for growing into his role on the field.
The biggest revelation, however came during discussions about Marky Delgado, who has had a dark media cloud over him and his future with Toronto. Curtis was able to—to the delight of many—finally offer a more lucid answer to all the speculation.
“I’ve been in talks with his agent for a while now and we’ve reached an agreement. Right now it’s in the league office, it’s not finalized yet, but we’re working to finalize it as quickly as possible.”
On Thursday, the club finally made it official with about two weeks before the team hits the field for the MLS is Back Tournament.
The GM also had nothing but praise for the young Californian midfielder.
“Mark has been such a big part of TFC’s success. We are all very happy that he will be remaining with the club as he is an important part of our group,” said Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis in a press release. “He has played in some of our club’s biggest matches over the years and gained a tremendous amount of experience. He’s young, takes great care of himself, and works incredibly hard, which were critical factors in ensuring he remained with TFC for the long-term.”
"We've reached agreement on a new deal [...] it's a good long term deal." @TorontoFC GM Ali Curtis confirms a contract extension of Marky Delgado on Footy Talks Live with @KristianJack @stevocaldwell and @LukeWileman. #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/miR0EvnZtQ— Footy Talks (@FootyTalksLive) April 30, 2020
Delgado ranks fourth all-time on Toronto FC’s appearances list, behind only Michael Bradley, Justin Morrow, and Jonathan Osorio.
While he discussed other things, life is not all business for the general manager. He talked about how much he loved living in Toronto, and how he views the city as an especially diverse place, and joked that—because he has one month remaining on his rented property—he would be willing to build a log cabin by hand just to stay working with TFC.
However, regarding Toronto FC, his focus is clear: keep the entire organization committed to the goal of winning; one day football will restart, and Ali Curtis will ensure that TFC is ready when it happens.
“I can’t wait to see the training ground again.”
The full interview with Ali Curtis—as well as Justin Morrow—can be found in the latest edition of “Footy Talks Weekly” on the Homestand Sports Youtube page.