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Preki Impresses Robinson
February 9, 2010, 1:51 AM
Filed under: Carl Robinson, Preki, Toronto FC

As per Robinson’s blog…

WELL I have returned to Toronto for pre-season training and to say it’s cold is an understatement.

I arrived late Saturday and it was minus 10 when I touched down. Sunday was a rest day and we started work on Monday.

It was the usual first day with blood tests, medicals in the morning and then speed, agility and strength tests in the afternoon followed by the bleep test. The bleep test is a difficult one as you get up to high tempo running straight away, but although the tests are for the results they are used for heart rate monitor purposes.

I finally got to meet our new manager in Preki (former Everton and Portsmouth midfielder Predrag Radosavljevic). We had a very good chat and he seems a really straight honest guy.

His vision for the game and outlook is that of a winner and a very focused guy. I’m sure there will be a lot of changes this year and we will wait and see what happens. Nothing amazes me in football and nothing ever will.

The CBA agreement is still yet to be resolved and the deadline has been extended to February 12. Let’s all hope we can resolve this and can just get on with playing.
(The CBA is a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the MLS and the Players’ Union over contracts. Issues including team bonus increases, an increase in the minimum league salary and an increase in salary cap are all up for discussion as in the MLS players sign for the league, not the club.)

The transfer deadline in Britain came and went and it must of been one of the quietest windows ever. The big clubs decided against making any moves, although Manchester City splashed out £7 million on young Adam Johnson.

There were a lot of loan moves, especially out of Spurs, with Alan Hutton going to Sunderland and my pal Robbie Keane going to Celtic.

Now this is a great move for him and one that he has always wanted as he was a Celtic supporter as a boy. Although a bit strange to leave Spurs, I’m sure he’ll be a massive hit for them this year.

Away from football I must say that I’m looking forward to the Six Nations tournament that starts this weekend with Wales playing England – a massive grudge match. There will be lots of pride at stake and I’m sure it will be very tense down at Twickenham.

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Preki’s influence should result in a new-look TFC
January 25, 2010, 12:35 PM
Filed under: Preki, Toronto FC

One trade down — and surely more to come.

As uninspiring as it may have been, Toronto FC and Mo Johnston’s trade last week for midfielder Jacob Peterson at least showed player personnel decision-making no longer is a one-man operation at the club.

Peterson’s acquisition won’t excite, but the message should. Johnston has spent three years running the franchise basically alone with not enough scouting or influence to assist in team building.

Things have changed with Preki on board as coach.

The Peterson deal had Preki’s fingerprints all over it — Johnston made that loud and clear. Preki is much more than a field manager, he’s a decision-maker. And TFC is better for it.

Expect more moves to come, with Preki’s influence the guiding force. And with training camp a week away, there are significant holes to fill.

Rumours continue to revolve around goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Johnston isn’t actively looking to deal Frei, but the young goalkeeper is the bounty for getting significant talent. Almost every proposed draft-day deal involving TFC included Frei. He is a valuable asset — quality with Generation Adidas status. For Johnston to move Frei and give the goalkeeping reins to Brian Edwards, he’ll have to be blown away.

On defence, it makes sense to move Adrian Serioux to right-back; a position at which he thrived while in Houston. On the other side, Nana Attakora isn’t a natural left-back, but fits the billing. Attakora proved a capable marking defender last season, and look for his growth to continue in a marking role.

Centre-defence is where bigger questions arise. It makes sense for Emmanuel Gomez to get a good look. Gomez still is young enough to grow into the position, having the necessary size and confidence on the ball. But he needs help.

The idea that Egyptian trialist Ibrahim Saied can be an answer is far-fetched. The move reminds of a previous experiment, Olivier Tebily — a defender with minimal international name recognition failing to live up to expectations. Johnston needs to look long and hard at bringing in a permanent answer at this vital position.

In midfield, the question is where to play Sam Cronin. The second-year player looked good outside right when deputized his rookie year, but isn’t a natural wide player. Cronin is a valuable commodity. Johnston looks at Cronin as an integral part of his team going forward, and refused to trade him on draft day despite getting more calls about Cronin than any other player. Cronin will be in the starting XI, so outside right seems like the place.

The middle of the park seems straightforward, with Julian De Guzman and Carl Robinson. Robinson is a natural in the holding role. And with a training camp under his belt, De Guzman should have no problem proving his prowess.

On the left, Dwayne de Rosario could find himself on the flank. De-Ro is no stranger to the position, having done well wide left with the Canadian national team. This, however, isn’t the ideal situation for De-Ro or the team.

If De-Ro isn’t wide left, Jim Brennan or Chad Barrett may work. Brennan no longer can be penciled in as a guaranteed starter and it’s questionable whether he retains the captain’s armband under Preki. Left-midfield might be his best position at this point, a place his lack of pace won’t be exposed. Barrett isn’t ideally suited there either, but proved he can be a makeshift flank player when need be. Johnston would be best off looking to upgrade.

Ditto for up front. The largely unproven O’Brian White looks destined to have a run, but with whom he partners is unknown. De-Ro is most logical because of his play-making ability. But a true target-man and proven goal-scorer is atop Johnston’s wish list.

As trade bait, Marvell Wynne has been dangled, but there’s next to no market. Wynne’s stock has dropped considerably over the last year, despite being involved with the U.S. national team set-up. No MLS team came calling for the speedster in draft-day trade talks.

Source: Click Here



Preki Elected to Hall of Fame
January 15, 2010, 9:11 AM
Filed under: Preki, Toronto FC

Predrag “Preki” Radosavljevic, Major League Soccer’s only two-time MVP, and Thomas Dooley, the 1993 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year, have been elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2010 on the Player ballot.

Dooley, eligible on the Player ballot for the last time, was named on 71 percent of the ballots, while Radosavljevic was named on 68 percent of the ballots. A Player must be named on 66.7 percent of the selection committee’s ballots to earn election.

The two players were both members of the 1998 U.S. FIFA World Cup team, and the European-born duo started back-to-back MLS All-Star games together in 1998-1999.

“What a great pleasure to announce two extraordinary players and individuals as the newest Hall of Famers – Thomas Dooley and Preki,” said National Soccer Hall of Fame President Jonathan Ullman. “These two players have made historic contributions to soccer in the United States, changing the character of the American game by bringing their international experience to our domestic players. Both individuals have been close to election previously, and it is wonderful to see this well-deserved honor finally come to pass.”

Dooley and Radosavljevic were the top two vote-getters not elected in the 2009 balloting, when Jeff Agoos and Joy Fawcett were elected. In 2008 when no player appeared on the required 75-percent of ballots, Radosavljevic and Dooley finished first and fourth in the voting. Dooley had been named on 50 percent of the ballots in each of his previous six years of eligibility, but never earned the call.

To be eligible for the Hall of Fame as a Player, an individual must have been retired for at least three full calendar years but no more than 10 years, and either 1) Played at least 20 full international games for the United States or 2) Played at least five seasons in an American first-division professional league and was selected as a league All-Star at least once. Any player named on less than five percent of the ballots is dropped from eligibility as a Player.

The selection committee for the player election includes all current and former coaches of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team, active MLS coaches with a minimum of four years tenure, select soccer administrators, designated members of the media and all Hall of Famers. The committee members name up to 10 Players from the list of eligible candidates on their annual ballot.

Source: Click Here



Preki Interview
January 1, 2010, 11:41 PM
Filed under: Preki, Toronto FC

Preki has proven to be one of the best coaches in MLS over the last two years.

He led Chivas USA to consecutive playoff appearances while earning a Coach of the Year award along the way.

This off-season both club and manager agreed that it would be best for both to part ways, and now the former American international is looking forward to a new challenge as head coach of Toronto FC.

Keith Costigan: Throughout last season you were constantly linked to the head coaching positions at Kansas City, D.C. United and Chicago, but it came as a bit of a shock to us all that you ended up becoming the new head coach of Toronto FC. What were your initial thoughts when Toronto made their move for you and how excited are you about taking on this new challenge?

Preki: I had heard all the rumors about the other clubs being interested in me but Mo Johnston acted fast and really showed me that he wanted me. I was very happy to commit to Toronto because they showed me that they felt I was the man for the job and sometimes you want to feel that from a club.

They were the first club I talked to and by making me feel like that really wanted me it made it an easy decision to join Toronto and now I am excited for the future here. Toronto is a great franchise that has great potential. It has some of the best fans in the league and they are hungry for success.

K.C.: You have inherited a squad that has flattered to deceive over the last few seasons. How happy are you with the squad you inherited and what kind of moves can we expect to see you make over the coming months?

Preki: We have already decided not to pick up the options on Amado Guevara and Pablo Vitti so we have already begun to make changes to the squad. Building the squad will take time but I think that we really have some special players in our locker room and we really have to teach them to play together and care for each other when they step on the field. If we do that we will be a successful team.

K.C.: What are your goals for next season at Toronto?

Preki: I just want to see us make progress as a team. I want us to be a difficult team to play against every night and I want us to work hard for each other on the field. If we can do those things then I believe success will follow. Our ultimate goal is obviously a championship but we have to understand the work that goes into winning one.

Source: Click Here



TFC to hire Preki as new head coach
November 14, 2009, 1:24 PM
Filed under: Coaching, Preki, Toronto FC

Toronto FC has tried and failed for three straight years to make the playoffs, so finding a coach capable of getting the club over that hurdle was vital this winter. TFC has found just such a coach in one of the most sought-after coaching prospects in American soccer.

Toronto FC will hire Preki as the club’s fourth head coach, sources told SBI on Friday. Preki will take over for former interim head coach Chris Cummins, who was not retained after taking over for former head coach John Carver.

Preki’s arrival in Toronto will reunite him with former Kansas City Wizards and Everton teammate Mo Johnson, TFC’s director of soccer. Johnston stated that he wanted to bring in a head coach who understood MLS and Preki brings one of the best resumes around when it comes to MLS.

A former MVP and MLS Cup winner as a player, Preki guided Chivas USA to the playoffs in each of his three seasons as head coach, though the team did lose in the first round each season.

Preki had been believed to be a candidate to take over as Chicago Fire head coach, but the Fire’s continued success under current coach Denis Hamlett removed that move as an option.

One interesting sub-plot surrounding Preki’s hiring is how it will affect Toronto FC midfielder Amado Guevara. Preki traded Guevera to Toronto after he and Guevara had a falling out during Guevara’s brief time with Chivas USA in 2007.

Source: Click Here