Toronto FC’s Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final at Raymond James Stadium was a visit down Reminiscence Lane for each membership president Invoice Manning and GM Ali Curtis.
Again in 2000-01, Manning was president and GM of the Tampa Bay Mutiny, which performed there earlier than folding after a dismal 4-21-2 marketing campaign in 2001. And Curtis was drafted by Tampa second total within the 2001 MLS SuperDraft (former TFC coach Ryan Nelsen went two picks later to D.C. United).
And various contacts.
These embody Mickey Farrell, senior vice-president of the Tampa Sports activities Authority which manages the stadium, and Brian Ford, COO of the Tremendous Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who play there.
“They had been each instrumental in us getting the power,” mentioned Manning, who calls it a “world-class venue.”
One of some stops for TFC
Raymond James is simply the newest cease on TFC’s pandemic travels. Toronto, which completed out final season enjoying in East Hartford, Conn., has arrange store in Orlando this 12 months.
Toronto’s subsequent house recreation is Could 12 in opposition to Columbus Crew SC at Exploria Stadium. There’s a break in June for the FIFA worldwide window in addition to July 9-16 across the opening of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The hope is TFC will have the ability to get house earlier than later.
“We’re working with the federal government on with the ability to prepare [there] and we’ll see the place we will play from there,” Manning mentioned. “There’s nonetheless quite a bit up within the air however we’re attempting to work that by.
“It is nearly like issues change weekly. It is loopy,” he added.
One choice is coaching in Toronto and enjoying video games someplace nearer within the U.S. Serving to issues probably is the truth that the crew is slated to get its second spherical of COVID vaccinations subsequent week.
“The aim could be to coach again in Toronto — clearly we’ll be totally vaccinated,” Manning mentioned. “If the border continues to be a problem, we’ll in all probability have a spot that is nearer to house, so it is not as massive as a flight.
“So long as we will keep again in Toronto. That is nonetheless a giant query mark.”
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Stint with Tampa Bay Mutiny
Manning was 34 when he took over the Mutiny in 2000 after being named United Soccer League government of the 12 months with the USL A-League champion Minnesota Thunder in 1999.
The Mutiny completed fourth total at 16-12-4 (52 factors) in Manning’s first 12 months on the helm, dropping 6-2 on mixture to the Los Angeles Galaxy within the first spherical of the playoffs.
Manning, who considered his crew pretty much as good however not nice, didn’t choose up coach Tim Hankinson’s contract choice on the finish of the 2000 season. The crew was owned by the league on the time and Manning was instructed, for monetary causes, he could not make every other adjustments. That left him with a employees nonetheless largely loyal to Hankinson.
Manning ultimately traded star playmaker Carlos Valderrama, goalkeeper Scott Garlick and defender Ritchie Kotschau mid-season to the Colorado Rapids the place Hankinson had resurfaced as coach.
Outscored 68-32 in 2001, the Mutiny had been equally poor at house (2-10-2) and away (2-11-0). Its 14 factors stays a league-low.
Curtis performed 20 video games for the Mutiny that season, beginning 12. He completed with two targets and an help.
“Any time you are knowledgeable soccer participant, each stadium you play there is a reminiscence. We did not win a variety of video games although in that stadium,” he mentioned with a chuckle. “These recollections I am not occupied with.
“The crew that we have now in Toronto FC is exponentially higher than the crew that we had in Tampa.”
‘I by no means thought I might get again there in MLS’
Within the wake of Tampa folding, Manning elected to get extra enterprise expertise. He labored for the NBA Houston Rockets (director of company partnerships) after which the NFL Philadelphia Eagles (vice-president gross sales and companies) earlier than Actual Salt Lake introduced him again to MLS in 2008.
“I needed to exorcise some demons after I got here again to MLS,” mentioned Manning. “One in every of my greatest regrets was not with the ability to play the subsequent season [with Tampa], to repair that 2001 season.
“I by no means thought I might get again there in MLS. It brings again some good recollections and it brings again some recollections the place typically when issues do not go your approach, you have to be taught from it. It was a giant studying expertise for me, that final 12 months [in Tampa].”
Curtis, in the meantime, moved on to play for D.C. United and FC Dallas.