Toronto FC announced on Sunday that Chris Armas would no longer be the man at the helm of the club.
“You read the news earlier today,” began TFC President Bill Manning at the start of Sunday’s press conference. “We relieved Chris of his head coaching duties. Very difficult times and Chris is a very good man, so it was a very difficult conversation for Ali [Curtis] and I, but we need to move forward.”
The results have not been there: winless in seven, six-straight defeats, culminating in Saturday’s 7-1 humbling away to D.C. United.
“It's been a difficult 18 months and then particularly it's been difficult the last six months,” said TFC General Manager Curtis. “Since Chris took over it's been an unbelievable time having to move the team to Orlando and all the different variables that the club has had to manage through on the field and off the field.”
“That being said the results drive our business and results weren't there,” he added. “We felt we needed to go in a different direction.”
It wasn’t just the results, but how they came about.
“The way we have been losing, especially since returning from the three-week break has been very difficult to watch,” said Manning. “And when you see a team concede like we did yesterday, we just saw no way back outside of making the coaching change.”
“I saw the term ‘something had to give’ and we needed to make that decision,” he continued. “The results of late have been unacceptable. And that goes to every player and the coaching staff and the support staff and on up to us.”
Assistant Coach Javier Perez will take the reins of the team for Wednesday’s match away to the New England Revolution ahead of the Gold Cup break.
The club will then have ten days before the next game on July 17 against Orlando City SC.
Between now and then much work remains to be done.
“It's important that we assess where we are, where we're going and move forward in a positive way,” levelled Curtis. “That's what our club demands. It's what our fans demand. It's what our city demands.”
“We all need to ask ourselves what can we do better? How can we improve?” he continued. “And that's from every player to the staff and each one of us and everyone within the club. To look at him or herself, to see what we can do to improve, to drive the club and the team to where it needs to be and to get results on the field.”
On the field it starts with keeping the ball out of the Toronto net.
“We have been leaking goals and finding ways to lose,” pinpointed Manning. “Look at the Nashville game – we're up 2-1. We come back against Orlando, tie it 2-2, we found a way to lose by giving up a third goal. You can't win when you're conceding two-plus/three goals a game.”
“So certainly we have to shore things up defensively – that to me is the most important thing. The old saying ‘defense wins championships’ and if you look at TFC over the last five/six seasons, we've been very tough defensively, with the exception of 2018,” he continued. “Last year we had the fifth-best goals against average in the league. We were tough to score on.”
“Collectively – it's not just the defenders that we have out there – as a team,” Manning added. “We're going to challenge whoever is taking on our head coaching duties to strengthen us defensively, because it's got to start with that.”
It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone who has given up so much to help the club. With the team playing on the road the entire season, this was no standard gig, it was 24/7 – away from home, away from the family.
“It was a very difficult meeting,” levelled Curtis. “Chris handled that meeting with absolute class and professionalism.”
“I don't think I've had, in my professional career, a feeling like that ever after a meeting,” he continued. “To deliver that news is not easy because you’ve got a guy that would give you the shirt off his back and would do whatever he could to help the team win.”
Said Manning: “Chris is a class act. He is a professional. He got it, he understood.”
“It was emotional. It's just very difficult because you see a man who would do anything to get wins for this club, but it just wasn't happening. The fact that he stood there and he looked us in the eyes and he hugged us before he left and thanked us for the opportunity, just tells you so much about who he is,” he added. “He was a class act on the way in and he was a class act on the way out.”