TORONTO – Step to the fore, Tim Bezbatchenko.
Bezbatchenko, who works in Major League Soccer’s head office as the league’s senior director of player relations and competition, will be named Toronto FC’s new general manager on Friday morning, sources confirmed to sportsnet.ca.
The MLS club did not return a message from sportsnet.ca seeking comment and confirmation.
Toronto FC has called a press conference for 10 a.m. on Friday at BMO Field where the 31-year-old Bezbatchenko will be officially unveiled to the media by Tim Leiweke, CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and Toronto coach Ryan Nelsen.
TFC has been without a general manager since Sept. 5 when Leiweke fired Kevin Payne, who also served as club president. Leiweke said that he and Payne, who hired Nelsen in January, were no longer on the same page, hence the decision to let the veteran MLS executive go.
Earl Cochrane, TFC’s director of team and player operations, was also fired. Chief scout Pat Onstad was retained but later stepped down. Onstad was hired by Payne, who took over as Toronto FC president and general manager last November.
When he announced the firing of Payne, Leiweke made it clear that Nelsen would remain as coach of TFC next season. Leiweke said the new general manager will have the freedom to build his staff, but he wouldn’t be allowed to fire Nelsen.
Leiweke also said any potential general manager candidate would have to have MLS experience and know how to be able to exploit and master the intricacies of the league’s salary-cap system. Bezbatchenko appears to fit that bill, as he has worked on player contracts during his tenure in the MLS head office.
Bezbatchenko has no GM experience, and he will inherit quite a mess upon his arrival in Toronto.
TFC sports a 4-14-11 record and sits in second-last place in the 19-team MLS standings. Winless in seven games, the Reds were officially eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, marking the seventh straight MLS campaign that they failed to qualify for the post-season.
A lawyer by trade, Bezbatchenko used to play professional soccer for the third-tier Pittsburgh Riverhounds after playing with the University of Richmond.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Bezbatchenko has worked for MLS since August 2010, joining the league’s head office after working as an associate with the law firm Shearman & Sterling.