TFC’s New President Just the Beginning

Kevin Payne is a good choice of president for TFC, but Jason deVos could add needed grassroots experience
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, November 29, 2012

Made in Canada - coverage of the Canadian MLS, NASL & USL Clubs, CSL, PCSL, Canadian Championship & Canada National Teams

So Kevin Payne is the new president of Toronto FC. Call me naïve, but I’m actually quite positive.

From the press conference on Wednesday, it seems as if MLSE has realized that TFC needs to be run differently than other Toronto teams. Being so, MLSE has made TFC an autonomous unit, where Kevin Payne will control both the business and soccer side of the Reds — unlike his counterparts at the Leafs and the Raptors.

Considering that he was in the same role at a D.C. United, where the infrastructure was worse and the resources fewer and he still managed to make the club one of the most successful in MLS, is a good sign for a Toronto team where these factors aren’t an issue.

At the press conference, Payne also hinted that we’d see reforms rather than revolutions at Toronto. And while many fans are understandably impatient, we’ve seen too many revolutions at TFC during its lifetime. Now it needs a strong leader and stability.

Payne also admitted that he has limited knowledge of Canadian soccer, which is important to say at the beginning of this venture. Pretense of knowledge is dangerous, and admitting the lack of knowledge and stating a commitment to partnering with OSA and CSA, show that he respects the task.

While Payne’s MLS experience will be good for the immediate future, the club also needs to look ahead. And when it comes to the future, it is all about tapping into the huge network of grassroots soccer in Ontario and creating a pipeline towards Toronto FC, which would create a sense of community in all youth teams around TFC.

The perfect candidate to achieve this is in my eyes is Jason deVos. Not only has he experienced the challenges of playing in the Canadian lower league system, with both youth teams and on one of the early semi-pro Impact teams, but he also has the right connections to the grassroots.

This has been shown through his great work and achievements as technical director at Oakville Soccer Club. While there, he made great strides at improving player development and fought hard to make this a priority over mere wins at youth levels.

Hiring deVos in a relevant position would show that Payne appreciates the uniqueness and potential of soccer in Ontario and Canada, and deVos would have the skills and contacts to help fulfill that potential.

Increased Canadian presence in management would indeed be a positive thing. While being Canadian shouldn’t be a guarantee for a job, the Canadian teams have unique challenges within MLS, and hiring someone with knowledge and understanding of all levels of Canadian soccer should only help to improve both the club and the country’s soccer in general.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.