TORONTO – Major League Soccer's Toronto FC fired coach Preki Radosavljevic and director of soccer Mo Johnston on Tueday.
Toronto is third in the East at 7-10-7 and appears likely to miss the playoffs following Saturday's 1-0 home loss to D.C. United, which has the poorest record in the league.
Preki, inducted last month into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame, was in his first season with Toronto after earning coach of the year honors at Chivas USA. Johnson had been with the team since its inception, and Toronto has never made the playoffs.
"What we had seen over the last several weeks was the team was heading in the wrong direction, but it was even bigger than that. The situation was not right, that's the best way I can describe it," said Tom Anselmi, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment.
"In hindsight, we had the wrong two guys, and now we've got to do a real thorough search and find the right guy to lead this club, and really have a vision for where this club wants to go next, and what it needs from a total infrastructure standpoint."
Assistant coach Nick Dasovic was appointed interim head coach Tuesday. Earl Cochrane, manager of team operations, took over on an interim basis for Johnston.
Stars Dwayne De Rosario and Julian de Guzman said the relationship between the players and their ex-coach was a troubled one.
De Rosario acknowledged that "sometimes it definitely did affect us in the games" while de Guzman said "we had our moments where a lot of the guys weren't on the same page as him."
Asked to explain, de Guzman replied: "Going into games and not being able to express themselves the way they would like to. Not even just players, speaking on behalf of pretty much the entire staff, you'd feel the environment not 110 percent positive the way a club would need to be if they want to be successful at any level of this game. Being able to express yourself and feel free on and off the pitch meant a lot, and that's something that was missing in the group with Preki being involved."
Dasovic becomes the fifth head coach in Toronto's history following Johnston, John Carver, Chris Cummins and Preki, who was hired in November after Cummins' family couldn't obtain Canadian work visas.
"I'm looking forward to the change and looking forward to pushing this team to the playoffs," said De Rosario said. "Preki definitely ran a tight ship and I don't think a lot of the players adapted to that. Nick obviously wants to loosen it up a little bit, let guys enjoy their play, and I think the guys will definitely respond to the way he wants us to play."