Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto FC Hits the Road, Looking for Turnaround under New Management

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto FC Hits the Road, Looking for Turnaround under New Management

Article excerpt

Toronto FC ready to start under new management

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TORONTO - Sporting a new coach and formation, Toronto FC looks to turn around a dismal season starting Saturday in Kansas City.

Toronto (1-9-0) and head coach Aron Winter parted ways during the recent three-week international break. Paul Mariner, director of player development, was promoted to the role of head coach and director of soccer operations.

The 59-year-old Englishman, who was an assistant coach in New England under coach Steve Nicol from 2004 to 2009, is a totally different package from his Toronto predecessor.

Winter was icy cool, perhaps a little rigid and very committed to his 4-3-3 formation. Mariner wears his heart in his sleeve and seems to favour a 4-4-2 approach, although he wasn't discussing tactics after training Thursday except to say there will be a different setup Saturday.

His players were more open, citing the move to a 4-4-2 formation.

Midfielder Julian de Guzman took in his first practice under Mariner after spending time away with the Canadian national team.

"The guys seem to respond very well to his orders and demands," said de Guzman. "He has a very good understanding of the league, of our teams. The guys definitely respect that.

"Right off the bat, the feeling I get just walking in today's changing room, guys are upbeat and the energy's there. It's a positive response."

Thursday's practice was far different from past training sessions under Winter. Mariner rarely stopped talking, usually had a ball in his hand and regularly stopped the session to make his point.

Parents may not want to bring small children to Toronto FC practices. The language is colourful and blunt.

"It's just the way I roll," Mariner said of his high-energy approach. "That's my MO (modus operandi). Either you like it or you don't like it."

Mariner, whose last game as manager was in late 2010 when he was with England's Plymouth Albion, seems in his element.

"It's fantastic. I didn't know how much I missed it," he said.

Mariner and his team face a challenging schedule with a midweek game in Houston (whose 4-4-4 record is mainly due to a heavy away schedule while waiting for its new stadium to open) following the weekend matchup with Sporting Kansas City (8-3-1 including 5-1-0 at home). …

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