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DC United defender Jordan Graye (L) collides with Toronto FC defender Adrian Cann while going for a ball during the second half of their MLS soccer game in Toronto September 11, 2010. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese

MIKE CASSESE

Toronto FC is in a hole that will be difficult to get out of, with four of the remaining six games on the road.



As the team has only won one away game all season, TFC is looking at a fourth consecutive Major League Soccer campaign without a playoff appearance.



With supporter angst at a fever pitch following last Saturday's dismal home loss - 1-0 to bottom team DC United - club owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has some major problems to solve with no simple solutions in sight.

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To start with, MLSE surely has to look back at its initial approach in 2007. Too many poor decisions on the technical side of the operation were made. Denial of this will only increase the prospect of the errors being repeated.



The biggest blunder was inappropriate hiring and as a result, Toronto FC is once again faced with chaos and instability instead of success and some kind of harmony.



The team that head coach Predrag (Preki) Radosavljevic inherited this season missed the playoffs in 2009. It was in desperate need of overhaul, after losing 5-0 to the league's worst team (New York Red Bulls) in the last game of its 2009 season.



But when you coach the way Preki does - uncompromising, tough and ruthless with player demands - you simply have to win in the short term. Had he been hired two years ago, the patience meter would have been more reasonable. But if the ultimate result remains the same at the end of this 2010 season - in the form of failure to make the playoffs - then clearly he will be a tough sell to the TFC fan base.



Meanwhile Mo Johnston, who was unsuccessful as TFC's head coach in its first year, has also failed miserably for the franchise in his redefined role as director of soccer. A continual revolving door of players - over 70 have come and gone in four years - demonstrates his indecisiveness and an inability to assess talent.



MLSE's decision to hire Johnston in the first place was clearly based on acquiring a public-relations personality who would be media friendly and impressive to the fans and players. The decision was certainly not made because of proven management experience or competence in the area of professional soccer business. There was simply no track record of off-field success. Any reasonable due diligence and thoroughness would have led to this finding.



The Toronto FC franchise should not have been a place for personnel to learn their trade on the job, be it coaching or soccer management. It should have required a more experienced skill set other than what Johnston brought to the table. The city and its fan base was just too big and demanding.

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Even in the unlikely event Toronto FC makes the playoffs, it will be hard to justify the status quo at the club.

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