Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Curtis Named Toronto FC GM, Charged with Returning Team to Championship-Calibre

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Curtis Named Toronto FC GM, Charged with Returning Team to Championship-Calibre

Article excerpt

Ali Curtis named Toronto FC general manager

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TORONTO - In naming Ali Curtis its Toronto FC's fifth general manager, Toronto FC is getting an MLS veteran who always has a plan.

He famously arrived as sporting director of the New York Red Bulls with a binder full of blueprints for the team. Now the 40-year-old is being asked to return TFC to championship-calibre.

Curtis left the Red Bulls in early 2017, in a somewhat messy breakup after helping build both the first team and a flourishing talent pipeline. Without going into details on his departure, he said it had been time to turn the page and that he took a step back to get some perspective on what he wanted in the future.

"This opportunity came along and it's the right fit. It's the right club, it's the right people," Curtis said at his introductory news conference at Toronto's training centre.

"Today has been a long time coming but I'm very very excited. So I can't wait to get to work."

In succeeding the cerebral Tim Bezbatchenko, the competitive Curtis will bring his own style to the job.

"There's an intensity to the way I work and the level of execution that I demand out of myself and everyone around me," Curtis said.

As befitting a man whose full name is Ali Muhammad Curtis.

The job came open when Bezbatchenko left to run Columbus Crew SC. That job has yet to be officially announced but sources say Bezbatchenko is headed back to his hometown to run both the sports and business side of the club.

Manning said Bezbatchenko had been given permission before Christmas "to seek another opportunity." The day after Christmas, the two spoke again and Manning summoned head coach Greg Vanney to talk about successors.

"Ali was at the top of both of our lists," Manning said.

Toronto got some financial compensation from Columbus in allowing the under-contract Bezbatchenko to leave, Manning said without elaborating.

Vanney spent a day with Curtis in Phoenix last week. The meeting went well and the team offered Curtis the job on Monday.

"Greg and I knew right away that while we certainly will miss Tim, we wanted to get the best guy out there to lead this franchise, in terms of soccer, going forward ... We wanted to make sure we didn't miss a beat as we go into 2019," said Manning.

Bezbatchenko joined Toronto in September 2013, helping build a team that went to the MLS Cup final twice -- winning in 2017. While he was not made available Thursday, Bezbatchenko will be in Toronto the next few days to help Curtis with the transition.

"He leaves this franchise much better than when he started," Manning said. …

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