Toronto FC announced on Wednesday morning, just before the start of the locker clean out day media interviews that mark the end of the season, that Bob Bradley would be joining the club as head coach and sporting director.
One of the most decorated coaches in MLS history with an impressive resume in both the club and international game, the possibility of adding another Bradley into the fold could not be passed up.
“I'm really excited,” said Toronto FC President Bill Manning. “Bob is someone that I've known from a distance for 20 years and I've greatly admired him as a coach, his accomplishments, his will to win. We've never really crossed paths, but I've heard such good things and I've always said to myself, if I had an opportunity and Bob Bradley was available he was a guy who I would want to run one of my teams.”
“The circumstances allowed for that this year,” he continued. “When LAFC’s season ended, I requested permission to speak to him and had an opportunity to meet him in person when we spent about three-and-a-half hours together. Things came together very quickly after that. He is the right guy at the right time to lead this club.”
Manning outlined the responsibilities of that dual role, noting that the club would not be looking to install a general manager following the departure of Ali Curtis.
“The sporting director role is the supervision of all on-field operations, from the academy to second team to first team, as well as player personnel and the makeup of our roster,” he detailed. “Certainly he and I are going to collaborate on a lot of things, we have a very good support system in place – Jason Hernandez, Jack Dodd, and Devin Pleuler – and Bob is going to put his own stamp on this franchise.”
“I look forward to him doing that because we need that injection of new blood,” Manning added. “He has some very clear ideas of what it takes to put together a winning franchise. He and I shared a lot of the same visions for what we want.”
At the end of a long and gruelling season, ‘excited’ was the word of the day.
“I’m very excited, there's no two ways about it,” began Michael Bradley. “I'm excited for the club more than anything though.”
“I'm lucky; I know more than anyone how good my dad is and the environment that he will create, both inside the club and out on the field every day,” he continued. “And as a player, that's what you want, that's all you want: to come into a place every day where you're surrounded by people who share the same ambition, share the same drive, share the same commitment to trying to create something different, create something special.”
“On a personal level, I'm very excited for my family, for my kids – I don't think there are two people more excited in Toronto right now than my son and my daughter,” Michael added. “But, more than anything, I'm excited for the club.”
Though Michael promised that people would get “sick of hearing” about father and son reuniting in due time, it was unavoidable on day one.
“We have Michael here in the team, we have the son. We know how hard Michael works and the father is similar. He likes to work hard, he likes to play good football,” said Alejandro Pozuelo. “When I was, in 2019, in the All-Star Game, I spoke with [LAFC’s Carlos] Vela about him and he told me he’s an incredible coach, he likes to press higher, he likes to play football, he likes Latin people, so this is a good signal.”
“He likes to enjoy [the game] – this is the most important,” he added. “I'm very excited to know him now, to speak with him and work with him.”
Richie Laryea called it “a great hire.”
“He's obviously very proven, his LAFC teams have been very exciting, they're always really well organized. It’s huge for this club to have someone like that,” he continued. “He's successful and he knows what he's doing. All the guys are going to be very excited to work with him because he's top.”
With the season having only just ended on Sunday, it was necessary to act quickly.
“It was really important that we got him here so he can get to work,” stressed Manning. “The last thing I wanted to do was go into January – we start preseason January 19, we have 54 days, I counted, until then – so this was really important to get him on board sooner than later.”
After an extensive process last offseason, Manning did not want a repeat of that this time around.
“It's great. You can see that the club is not wasting time and making the changes that they think will bring this club back to where it should be,” highlighted Jonathan Osorio. “This is the way it is in sports, especially at a club with expectations. After a bad season things change right away. As someone in the club and who supports the club, it's good to see, and it's exciting to see what the future holds.”
So what can fans expect from a Bob Bradley TFC?
Michael would not be drawn on that: “I'm not going to sit here and speak for him. You guys hear me talk enough and you'll have more than enough chance to hear from him.”
But he did anticipate one thing: “There's going to be a commitment to having an environment where guys come in ready to work, ready to train, ready to give everything they have to making a team that can play good football and make our fans proud.”
There will be plenty of time to talk about the details of tactics and approach in the future, but for now Bob introduced himself by speaking of what drew him to this club.
“What goes through my mind first is that in the discussions I had with Bill and really in the incredible Zoom call with Mr. Tanenbaum is just this pride of being in Toronto, what Toronto is all about, a sports city,” Bob explained. “Mr. Tanenbaum talks about the Leafs, the Raptors, the Argos and he talks about TFC with such pride.”
“As you can imagine, the last eight years I paid close attention to everything that goes on in Toronto. And when I think back to days where I saw a full stadium, a downtown stadium, that gives this connection to fans, fans where you look and see diversity and you see the city, you see people from different backgrounds, you see a team that has players from different backgrounds, a team that can play football; what that meant to me and what that meant to my wife, Lindsay,” continued the new head coach. “The eight years that Michael has been here, we have watched every game – I've watched most games more than once.”
“I really appreciate Toronto, the city, the connection that the club has with the city and all that fits with ideas that I have developed over the years on the coaching end,” he interlaced. “A team that has identity, a team that has a playing style, a team that has players that you go watch them and, man, you're going to go back and watch them again, you're excited, you see something that's special, you see a commitment on the field, a mentality.”
“And wherever I've gone, I've tried to go in without pretending that I have all the answers,” Bob added. “And to see if I can go in and take my ideas and turn it into something.”