Greg Vanney Steps Down as Toronto FC Head Coach
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
--- After seven seasons, Greg Vanney has stepped down as Toronto FC head coach, leaving behind an impeccable legacy in the Toronto sports scene, which had previously been marred by long championship droughts and many disappointing playoff exits.
Earlier this morning, Toronto made the announced and held a press conference via Zoom, where Vanney described what factored into his decision to step down and reflected on his tenure with the club. Vanney, who was understandably emotional, mentioned that this was a decision he took his time with and not a spur of the moment:
“Obviously this was a difficult decision, one that I processed for an entire year…an entire difficult year…and just come to a conclusion at the end that it’s the right time for myself, for my family, to move forward and take a different step.” Vanney then added that his decision had nothing to do with term or financials stating “In the end, it’s a personal family decision. We haven’t talked money, years, or anything since July. All of that was never ever going to be about any of that for me, for the club. For me, it was really just trying to reconcile where our family is at along with what I felt was the right thing for me growing as a young coach.”
While addressing his decision, Vanney kind of alluded to what situation he may be looking for in the next chapter of his coaching career:
“Part of me is I’m a builder, I like to build things, I like projects, and I like big things. And this club is in a really really good place. There’s not a lot of building to do. It is an incredible club that is positioned from where we started to where we are, to be great.”
When asked if there was a personal moment that he remembers fondly, Vanney said that there were many but from a sentimental standpoint, he recalled a goal scored by Victor Vazquez:
“The second goal of the MLS Cup winning game when Victor (Vazquez) tapped it in, there was a brief moment there in 2017 when my mom passed away and all of the energy and work that had been put into trying to bring the team and the club forward and all the championships lost and everything that happened before that…it was a moment to reflect on her. That moment was probably the one I will remember the most.”
Vanney’s tenure was a true turning point for the club. After years of disappointing results, Vanney, along with his coaching staff, successfully changed the culture and style of play for Toronto while also setting a standard for not only Toronto FC, but also for the other MLSE-owned sports teams to follow.
Prior to naming Vanney as coach in 2014, there seemed to have been a revolving door as it pertained to coaches in Toronto; from the club’s inaugural season in 2006 until Vanney’s hiring in 2014, there had been 8 coaches and only two, Aron Winter and Ryan Nelsen, lasting for a total of 64 games.
For years, there has been a who’s who of coaches that have come in and let their intention of building the next great dynasty for their respective MLSE owned teams but ended up falling short of that goal and their tenure instead became remembered in a negative light. That was not the case for Vanney as his tenure included multiple trophies; MLS Cup (2017), three Canadian Championships (2016, 2017, and 2018), and a Supporters’ Shield (2017). In addition, Toronto advanced to the MLS Cup Finals on three occasions; 2016, 2017 (won), and 2018, and advanced to the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League in 2018, where they were defeated on penalty-kicks.
Vanney has earned the respect of his peers and should be celebrated for 6 incredible seasons that included many trials and tribulations before the club achieved success. The leadership of Vanney has been instrumental in Toronto FC going from being a soccer club hoping to make the playoffs to a soccer club that expects to be among the best in the league year in and year out.
There will definitely be plenty of interest for Vanney now that he is no longer under contract. Vanney’s dedication to Toronto FC and how gracious he was off the pitch makes this bitter-sweet but regardless of where he chooses to take his coaching talents, chances are those that have had the pleasure of interacting with him, will be rooting for him and hope that he is successful.
Photo Credit: Toronto FC (@TorontoFC)