Toronto FC introduce Nelsen as new head coach

Toronto FC will be introducing Ryan Nelsen as the team’s new head coach today in a press conference being held at BMO Field (10:30am).

The Nelsen hiring, first reported by Soccer By Ives on Monday, comes as a bit of a shock to some, but the link between Nelsen and Toronto FC president Kevin Payne is a strong one from their days at D.C. United. Nelsen helped lead D.C. United to the MLS Cup title in 2004.

Nelsen will be joined on the TFC coaching staff by new assistant Fran O’Leary, who most recently coached on college at Division III Bowdoin.

The biggest development from Tuesday’s press conference is the news that Nelsen will continue playing for Queens Park Rangers for the foreseeable future, with the sense being that he would leave if/when QPR is officially relegated. This means Nelsen could theoretically miss early-season MLS matches. He will not be attending the MLS Combine or the MLS Draft.

Former TFC head coach Paul Mariner was officially let go earlier this morning.

What do you think of this development? See Nelsen succeeding? Think it’s awkward that he will still keep playing for QPR?

Share your thoughts below.

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43 Responses to Toronto FC introduce Nelsen as new head coach

  1. only me says:

    Payne you too old talk is cheap.

  2. CSD says:

    Kieron Dyer is available now after being cut by QPR maybe TFC can bring him in as a counselor for their injured players.

  3. solles says:

    what i dont fully understand is Nelsen is still under contract with QPR, and there’s some suggestion overseas that this will not happen until May. Keiron Dyer, by the way, is healthy again and actually playing pretty well, he just can’t get in the QPR side, MLS would actually not be a bad fit for him.

  4. Beckster says:

    TFC lucky to get Nellie even though it is a risk. As far as Payne, the ass’t coach etc – hum – not so sure. This could get very messy.

  5. Michael F. says:

    I do think it’s awkward that he’s finishing the season at QPR. How do you build chemistry with your team throughout training camp and the early part of the season when you’re across the pond hanging around for what appears to be an inevitable relegation. They’re not even in a “battle”. Bad way to start a coaching career IMHO. But I always admired him as a player and wish him well.

    • solles says:

      I think Kevin Payne must be so convinced its the right thing to do that hes willing to wait …that, or it turned out Toronto had to buy him out of his QPR contract and worked out this compromise.

      • Eric says:

        He’d be retiring to take the Toronto job so I can’t imagine that there’s any reason that they’d have to buy him out of his contract. Generally, your contract is simply negated when you announce retirement.

        That said, I wonder if this was Nelson’s decision feeling that he owed it to the team to finish out the season for them. If it is, it makes me question how ready he is to take over Toronto. It just seems misguided as a coach to waste the chance to have your team for preseason.

        Also, nothing against O’Leary as a DIII coach. I got to play against his team once while in college but this seems like a strange jump and I can’t imagine Nelson had any hand in the hiring so what happens if this guy and Nelson are on completely different pages when it comes to getting the team set up for the season?

        • no says:

          Nelsen served as O’Leary’s assistant coach for a year at George Mason while Nelsen was at DCU. And O’Leary is no slouch; “A” UEFA licence and top US credentials too.

          • chris says:

            Dont try to apply logic to this thread. O’Leary coaches in DIII so he must be bad

            • Bobb says:

              I see what you’re saying about people jumping to conclusions with little information, but as one of those with no knowledge of the situation I have to ask: if he’s such a good coach why is he at some DIII school instead of some college soccer power that is churning out MLS players?

              • chris says:

                Idk sometimes there are other factors. Maybe he has some soft spot for the college or hes comfortable there. The best coach I ever had wasnt at the academy team i played for or any of the other top teams in the area he was an ex Uruguay national team player that coached at some boondock club who was just happy to still be involved in the game he loved

          • Eric says:

            Please do not put words in my mouth. I was not knocking O’Leary as a coach. I simply said I thought it seemed like a strange jump from D3 to MLS assistant coach. It’s not a usual occurrence as far as I’m aware.

        • Strider257 says:

          Hard to say for sure, but hopefully TFC is aware of this new thing called the telephone. Hopefully, Nelsen was involved in the decision and was able to talk with O’Leary prior to the hiring. If not, things may not have changed that much at TFC.

  6. dan says:

    smart move but i dont get him playing for QPR, Toronto will have no manager for the foreseeable future, pretty dumb

  7. Pausner says:

    There are still questions about his international play for New Zealand. These questions have not been answered either. Especially considering that NZ has an excellent shot at qualification.

    • Bobb says:

      Imagine if Canada had made the hex, Nelsen took the TFC coaching job but kept playing for QPR and New Zealand, Canada and NZ played for the final WC spot and NZ with Nelsen playing knocked Canada out. That would have been hilarious.

      • MM says:

        Exactly. Where is the commitment to Canada if he is all of the place? You can’t possibly be playing internationally AND coaching MLS. Something has to give. You’re either playing fulltime or coaching fulltime. Its one or the other otherwise you plan to fail.

  8. greg says:

    I thought it couldnt get funnier in Toronna but I was wrong.

    Then again, the canucks love for britain is unmistakable… how many teams in the world would make a scot their marquee player? Vancouver has two scottish DP and a scottish coach. Its as if someone believes theyre the british equivalent of Catalonia. Glasgow tikitaka and all that.

    But bravo to KFC for showing the world that managing experience is overrated when youre chummy with the GM.
    Thank god he wasnt chummy with his kids youth soccer coach or hed be the head coach now.
    Actually, I take that back… the youth coach has experience.

    English management, english staff, now on to english players…. thats the way the world is going now with tactical and technical demands in football, english coaches are wanted everywhere…. they had colonies before. Rest of world? Not so much.
    The only thing missing is an academy led by an englishman because we all know that the state of soccer teaching in England is the envy of countries like Germany, Holland, France, Spain,etc….
    Thankfully they have the uber-incompetent Thomas Wrongen to run the academy (the same guy who cant recognize an 18yr olds talent that the player ends up starring in Germany about 18months after being cut and cut down by Wrongen) so he’s like a match made in incompetence heaven.

    Now were going to see footballl played by real men..none of that foreigner froufrou stuff:
    “Cmon lads, get stuck in, show a little heart, have some guts, lets go and get em..”

    Great news for Hoillett, he can come back home and manage right away when his career ends because he has the requisite experience to manage in Toronna: none.

    Good news to for the Seneca College soccer coach (toronto junior college), you are qualified to be an assistant coach in the MLS.

  9. TC says:

    He may be the right man for the job but you can’t be the HEAD coach and not be there with the team. Both the organization and Nelson are starting off on the wrong foot if you ask me. It also makes the MLS look JV. What other top league would this possibly happen in? NONE. TFC can’t get anything right. It’s a shame for such a great city and the league as a whole.


  10. jeff says:

    Hey Ives,…. bias much?

    The Toronto coach has ZERO experience but somehow that is overlooked and not a factor.
    While the Montreal coach gets the treatment because he didnt coach in a great league?

    Explain to me in what universe someone who doesnt have even a U6 coaching experience is better equipped than someone who has coached professionally?

    As much as euro coaches have had problems, I can tell you a group that has even more problems: first time coaches with zero experience.

    Thank god Toronto can count on a Div 3 coach in their midst to give them that pro coaching experience. Oh wait… its not THAT kind of Div 3???

    • Bobb says:

      It’s ANY experience in the US, whether it’s coaching another MLS team, a lower division team, a college team, or playing in MLS. Nelsen falls in the last category.

      How many coaches that don’t fall under ANY category have had success in MLS? The only one who has had decent success was Hans Backe, and he didn’t know which year the Gold Cup was happening, and although he was successful in that NY made the playoffs, they didn’t win any trophies despite having the highest payroll in the league.

    • MM says:

      HAHA Jeff, that’s awesome! I totally agree. My head is still reeling with TFC!

      What does that tell you of the standard in Canada – when a professional club makes a decision to completely disregard licensing qualification standards & basic experience criteria for hiring of head coaches? Sure it may work here and there with stars like Bruce Arena etc but standards are there for a reason and their being applied consistently shouldn’t be overlooked. “Well TFC has tried it the other way and didn’t succeed so lets try it the unconventional way and see what happens” Maybe Nelsen will be the next Bruce Arena. Maybe he won’t. I still don’t like the mockery TFC makes of hiring standards.

  11. Murphy says:

    This is bizarre. Definitely makes MLS look bad. If he was going to retire and begin coaching now that would be fine. But the fact that he is staying to play for QPR for a while means MLS looks ridiculous. The English papers will love this. I thought Payne knew what he was doing? I think the whole “I’ll take the job but stay in England” thing should have been a deal breaker…. If there is one thing TFC needs it is consistency. Probably won’t happen if your coach isn’t around for a few months…

    • solles says:

      this is your inferiority complex in action … QPR supporters are dissapointed but understand Nelsen’s descision and personally I have seen ZERO dissing on the US or MLS in connection with this from anyone except MLS and USA “fans”.

      • Murphy says:

        Come on you have to admit it looks bad. I don’t care what the English say I’m just saying this is not good for the reputation of MLS. I’m a fan of the league! I defend MLS to everyone. When does this ever happen anywhere else? Especially for a team in crisis like TFC. I would not say this if Nelson was retiring right now to take the job.

        • MiamiAl says:

          Put it to you this way- Who would you rather have: Ryan Nelsen or Hans Backe?

        • solles says:

          im just saying Nelsen’s own current supporters see this as a very good move for Nelsen and for the most part understand his decision given his age, this is not the attitude of people who think MLS “looks bad”

  12. bluewhitelion says:

    i know squat about his coaching ability. but his remaining as player at the expense of bonding and leading his new team, even in early season games seems totally misguided and yet one more quirky goofy thing at TFC. Marketing blunder, in the least. And I like K. Payne.

  13. MM says:

    If TFC & MLSE were supportive of developing soccer standard in Canada, why wouldn’t they a) consider experienced coaches and b) pick from the pool of qualified Canadian coaches out there? At least ensure the head coach they announced today has coached a minute. Its the proverbial slap to the face of Canadian soccer!

    • solles says:

      ok so when and if Nelsen ends up succeeding what will your line be then?

      • MM says:

        Everyone given enough time can develop into a good coach and maybe even succeed. But just like you expect surgeons to have at least their medical degree before hitting the surgery, so should professional clubs expect qualifications & coaching experience from their “head” coaches.

        But this is a long term plan for Payne. And in time, a few years down the road, Nelsen’s natural leadership abilities will shine as a “qualified” coach.

        In the meantime, is it fair to current qualified coaches, the standard of the sport presently, or TFC fan base? Probably not.

        • solles says:

          not sure why nelsen should be though of any differently than Ben Olsen or Jay Heaps or Jason Kreis, if anything I’d choose Nellie over any of those other 3 because of his professionalism and leadership qualities.

  14. JCC says:

    I’m surprised the reaction has been a muted “this is kinda weird”. The whole situation is completely shocking in my opinion and makes the team and the league look bad. I read that he’s still working on getting his coaching license as well. Just crazy.

  15. alex says:

    People are too caught up on this short period when he won’t be with the club.

    If you identify someone you really like, would you not be willing to wait a short period of time for him? What does TFC realistically have to lose?

    You can question why Kevin Payne is so willing to go the extra distance for someone with limited experience, but in terms of waiting a few months? Shouldn’t really get caught up on that.

  16. JoeW says:

    The last time Payne did something like this was when he hired Bruce Arena. Arena originally told him “no” and said that he’d committed to coaching the US Olympic Team (which was a year long residence camp followed by the Olympics). Payne persisted, finally signed Arena (later than a number of other MLS coach signings) and agreed to let him be the head coach of the US Olympics team and then disappear mid-season in MLS in order to coach at the Olympics. When asked about this (and if it devalued DC United), Payne’s response was that it was worth going the extra mile or making some exceptions to sign someone who he thought would be a great coach. Clearly he’s taking the same approach with Nelsen.

    Anyone who’d question Nellie’s commitment, think of it this way: Nelsen isn’t willing to “desert” his QPR teammates until they’re officially relegated. To put it another way, when Nelsen commits to something, he is totally committed.

  17. Luc says:

    Amateur move. I could see him brought in as a type of player-coach…but as a manager?

  18. ROCKY BOAT says: