Toronto FC hire Bezbatchenko as new General Manager

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By KEVIN KOCZWARA

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke said the search for a new General Manager to lead Toronto FC wouldn’t take long. Turns out, he was right.

Two weeks after parting ways with Kevin Payne, Leiweke found his man in Tim Bezbatchenko, who was announced at a press conference on Friday morning as the new general manager for the team effective immediately.

Bezbatchenko, 31, was previously the senior director of player relations and competition at Major League Soccer, and is someone that Lieweke hopes can turn around a franchise that has missed the playoffs every year since it’s debut season in Major League Soccer.

“Tim brings an analytical mind to the job along with the best understanding that I’ve seen of the salary cap and how to manage it,” Leiweke said in a press release. “He knows how to build a team that will win long-term and he believes, like we do, that his vision will have an immediate and positive impact on this team.”


During the press conference, Leiweke highlighted the fact that Bezbatchenko is a salary cap guru, having dealt in the last three years with every contract signed by the league in his role in the MLS office. In addition, Leiweke complimented Bezbatchenko on his relationships with every general manager in MLS, making a couple of digs at Payne for not having had good relationships with other teams in the league, which hurt the club.

“In working at the league office over the past few years, Toronto struck me as a great city with terrific supporters that has always had tremendous potential,” Bezbatchenko said in the press release. “I feel that my knowledge of the ins and outs of the league’s contracts and rules allows me to bring a unique and long-term perspective on rosters and budget. I look forward to working with Tim (Lieweke) and Ryan Nelsen to realize that potential.”

Lieweke confirmed during the press conference that between him, Nelsen, and Bezbatchenko, they have six designated player targets and plan on taking a trip to Europe in the next few weeks to meet with those targets.

Toronto FC currently sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, enduring another brutal season with a record so far of 4-14-11. They’ve been eliminated from the playoffs for the seventh year running, the longest record in the history of MLS

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What do you think of this news? Do you believe this is a good hire? Do you see Bezbatchenko turning the franchise’s fortunes around?

Share your thoughts below.

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30 Responses to Toronto FC hire Bezbatchenko as new General Manager

  1. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Anne Sullivan would have been a better hire.

  2. Petaluman says:

    Why does TFC hold a press conference for this and present it as a major announcement? Is this standard for all MLS clubs to make a big deal about hiring someone in the front office?

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      General Manager is second only to the head coach in the success of MLS teams. So, yes, it is a big deal.

      • chuck says:

        In many team structures, the general manager has a greater impact on a club’s success. Won’t matter for Toronto, however. Its problem run much deeper.

  3. wood chip zip says:

    a salary cap guru. . . that’s the ticket.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Knowledge of the cap bells and whistles is nice but what sets apart people like Arena is the ability to assess talent and limit signing mistakes, and the ability to construct a whole from the accumulated acquisitions. TFC originally had issues with bad big name signings, and of late just seems underpowered talentwise.

  4. Dimidri says:

    He’s a lawyer too, wrote this a couple of years ago-
    link to litigation-essentials.lexisnexis.com

  5. TD says:

    Prediction:
    • Based on the history of futility of TFC the following is plausible
    • TFC identify one or two players in Europe who they want, can get, and sign
    • They can’t join until the summer transfer window
    • TFC does well without the new players the first part of the season
    • New players disrupt chemistry and rhythm of the team when they join
    • TFC misses playoffs, leaving them asking their faithful fans to give them another season, this time with the whole team

    For the sake of the TFC fan base, let’s hope they go shopping in the right places.

  6. Smith says:

    Doesn’t matter. They will turn over the roster, sign some DPs & still not make the playoffs. If it weren’t for Chivas & DC, they would be the biggest joke in MLS.

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      Why is DC a joke? They are having a bad year, but they have had plenty of success and are moving toward a new stadium deal. A disappointing season doesn’t make them a joke.

      • chuck says:

        Why is DC a joke? They have sucked for 7 years and still play their home games in a garbage can. A disappointing decade does not make them a joke.

        Actually, I like DC because, when the league began, they were the only MLS team that wasn’t a joke. Uniform. Name. Style. They were a legitimate football team amongst a pack of marketing ploys. Its been sad watching the decline.

        • Cavan says:

          “They have sucked for 7 years”

          2012 says hello. 2008 had an Open Cup win. 2009 and 2011 were mediocre teams that couldn’t quite lock up a playoff spot down the stretch.

          “still play their home games in a garbage can”

          You get a land deal done in our metro region without enough money to self finance stadium construction 100% and the politcal know-how. Now with such ownership, the stadium is now coming along. The Mayor’s office just signed a labor agreement regarding stadium construction. Still a year or two from groundbreaking but it’s looking very likely. The mayor’s office is on board and there isn’t any organized opposition to it throughout the city.

        • MiamiAl says:

          Garbage can? lol. Go take a look at the USMNT record at RFK. And even today, as bad as DC United look at the moment, RFK is STILL a hard place for the visitors to get results. It will be a sad day in US soccer history when RFK finally falls…

      • Smith says:

        DC is a joke because (a) they stink (b) play in a dump (c) their fans stoppsed going to the games when they started to stink (d) their coach is in over his head (e) they will likely relocate before they actually get that stadium cuilt (f) they had most of their success when Soundgarden was in their prime.

        They stink.

    • Cavan says:

      I second Tony. Our team is having a bad year. It’s in transition as the new ownership is focused on the new stadium. The new stadium is coming along finally.

      DC United was a game away from hosting the MLS Cup in 2012. I don’t see how that makes United a “joke.”

    • solles says:

      DC’s not a joke, they just suck right now. TFC, Chivas… THOSE are jokes.

  7. alex says:

    Not a fan of this move. TFC has rolled the dice too many times already and turning the team over to a couple of inexperienced hires is pretty damn risky. Leiweke’s story of how LA became successful is deeply concerning and we seem to be pump priming the organization for one of the most epic failures of all time (which for TFC is saying something).

    Basically, we are going to give these two green hires a fist full of dollars to spend in a DP market and then build from there. Leiweke can wax platitudes about culture, capology, or whatever, but these guys are going to be minnows swimming with sharks and it won’t end well.

    Already one of the names going through the rumor mill is Antonio Cassano. If that actually happens, I might tune back in because Ryan Nelsen will lose control of the locker room within a matter of weeks.

    Grad prediction: neither of these guys are sitting in their current role with TFC opening day 2015. Nelsen gets fired and the human calculator gets reassigned to some other position to avoid the public embarrassment.

    • solles says:

      well thats not really a risky prediction is it? TFC’s problem (one of) is still a complete lack of long term thinking.

  8. Ivan says:

    Dear Toronto FC, no matter what you do, do NOT put artificial turf back on that stadium. This will be the last straw for fans!

  9. solles says:

    “he knows how to build a team that will win long term”

    Does he? He’s done it before then has he?

  10. Joe says:

    I give him until mid season next year

  11. rslfanboy says:

    There’s lots of examples of fresh faces that have turned out well, although not in Toronto. Lagerway was linked to being a possible hire with many extolling the great possibility, but when he started at RSL he had no previous experience as a GM in any function. He was a lawyer too. He was a middling keeper in the early days of the league.

    Kreis’ and his’ early days at RSL had fans screaming for their guts, as did they this last offseason when they unloaded Espindola, Olave, and Johnson.

    I’ll start making judgments about this time next year.

    • Andrew says:

      Didn’t RSL pretty much luck into getting Lagerway? IIRC, he just happened to work at the law firm that Checketts hired to handle the process of getting into MLS.