April 26, 2009 MLS Toronto FC story on coach John Carver's resignation (from MLSnet.com)

Johnston Talks About Carver's Resignation
04/26/2009 11:10 PM
MLSnet.com Staff Mo Johnston plans to name a new head coach this week. (Toronto FC)
By Mark Polishuk / MLSnet.com Staff

TORONTO -- John Carver's surprising resignation as the head coach of Toronto FC left the team's players, coaching staff and management all somewhat stunned that the man who has led the Reds since the start of the 2008 season would no longer be roaming the BMO Field sidelines. "We sat down with the coaches the other night after JC had handed in his resignation and it was difficult," said Mo Johnston, TFC's manager and director of soccer. "We weren't happy campers but it's started to sink in. It's started to settle in. ... We need to put the era of John Carver behind us and move forward."

Johnston met with media after TFC's 1-0 win over Kansas City on Sunday to clear up some rumors surrounding the surprise move and to address what the organization's plans are for the coaching position. While Johnston didn't want to comment on the "personal reasons" that Carver cited for the departure, he did say that Carver's ongoing disciplinary issues with Major League Soccer played a role.

"John's been a bit disillusioned," Johnston said. "He expressed his feelings and he decided he wanted to hand in his resignation. ... I thought maybe taking one or two days off from that, he could come back in refreshed, [but] he didn't feel it was the right thing to do.

"I wish him all the best, he's a friend. I'm sorry it's come all this way. It's been a traumatic week but I think the guys and the coaching staff have handled it magnificently."

While Carver's resignation came suddenly, Johnston said he thought it might have "been brewing for two or three weeks." He said that when he last spoke to Carver, the former coach said he was sorry to leave the team.

"John expressed the disappointment to me, and I said listen, these things happen in life," Johnston said. "Sometimes you have to move forward and put a brave face on it. Am I disappointed and upset? Of course, we'd all wanted to see us carry this through."

Johnston denied rumors that Carver's departure was caused by a rift between the coach and TFC upper management or Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and also didn't believe speculation that Carver would soon be back at Newcastle on the coaching staff of new Magpies manager Alan Shearer. In fact, Johnston said that he thought Carver might take a short hiatus from management.

"He's a tremendous coach and I've got no doubts that he will coach again, but in the near future I'm not so sure," Johnston said.

Carver met with the team on Saturday morning to say his goodbyes to the players, many of whom were left dumbfounded at their coach's announcement.

"Guys were surprised," said forward Chad Barrett. "When I woke up I didn't think we'd be having a coaching change. ... I wish him the best, I really appreciate him bringing me here and all he's done for me."

Carl Robinson said he has learned to not be surprised by anything that happens in soccer, but Carver's departure was still "a bolt out of the blue.

"It was tough because I'm very close to him and because he was like one of the boys," Robinson said. "He was a player's manager. But he's decided to move on and he has his reasons why.

"We said today we've got to win the game for him and we've got to ahead and get in the playoffs and win the championship for him."

Like a true coach, Carver's last words to his side included some last-minute exhortation about the Kansas City game.

"He told us before he left that we had to stay focused on our goal, and our goal was to perform today and get some points," said goalkeeper Stefan Frei. "We were all shocked to see him leave. I respect his decision and we were sad to see him leave, but we also knew we had to come out strong today."

To that end, Johnston said that he had received a text message from Carver just minutes after the final whistle of TFC's 1-0 result against the Wizards.

"He just sent me a text wishing the boys all the best, fantastic win, give the coaches a hug," Johnston said.

It remains to be seen which coach Johnston will embrace as TFC's new head coach. Assistants Chris Cummins and Nick Dasovic ran the team on Sunday, and Cummins manned the sidelines for TFC's 1-0 win against Chivas USA on Wednesday while Carver watched the game from a private box atop BMO Field in what was, at the time, considered to be just a tactical maneuver.

Johnston said that either Cummins or Dasovic would be named the interim head coach on Monday, with an official announcement coming on Tuesday or Wednesday. He also denied rumors that the team was looking any further for options.

"I've sat down and spoken to Chris, spoken to Daso and we'll make a decision on Monday," Johnston said. "It'll be one of these two guys. ... We're not looking at any candidates. If you see speculation, that's all it is, since at the end of day, [one of] these guys will be coaching the team on an interim basis."

Either of the two assistants would be warmly welcomed by the players as the new TFC head man, Robinson said.

"Chris has been in charge today and been fantastic. The boys reacted great as well, since there could've been a lot of disappointment but there wasn't," Robinson said. "The boys responded to them positively and even when JC's been the manager here, they did a lot of coaching. Chris worked with the attackers and midfielders, Daso worked with the defense, so they've put on a lot of sessions anyway and there was no problem whatsoever."

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