Toronto FC to keep Javier Perez in role of interim coach
Toronto FC interim coach Javier Perez, right, is congratulated by midfielder Nick DeLeon (18) at the conclusion of the second half of an MLS soccer match against the New England Revolution, Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. Toronto won 3-2. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, July 8, 2021 9:34PM EDT
TORONTO - Javier Perez is going to get more time to revive Toronto FC in his role as interim coach.
Perez was in charge of Toronto's 3-2 win Wednesday in New England, which ended the six-game losing streak that prompted the firing of first-year coach Chris Armas.
Initially club management only said Perez would take charge of that game, with the team not playing again until July 17. But Perez, who joined the franchise in February as an assistant coach, said after Wednesday's win that he would be guiding the team next time out.
“My next challenge is July 17 at home - and (to) get three points there,” said the 44-year-old Spaniard. “So if the management doesn't communicate to me anything different, I will be taking that challenge.”
Perez got a vote of confidence Thursday from GM Ali Curtis.
“The team responded to Javi and the moment in a great way, and took a result in one of the toughest places to play in MLS,” Curtis said in a text to The Canadian Press.
A source, granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter, said TFC does not plan an official announcement extending Perez's interim role. Instead , Perez will just be allowed to continue in the job.
The victory in New England also snapped a seven-game winless streak for Toronto, which fired Armas on Sunday in the wake of a club-record 7-1 defeat at D.C. United.
“The credit is to the players,” Perez said after the rebound win Wednesday.
Perez spent the four previous seasons as an assistant coach with New York City FC. Previously he was with U.S. Soccer for four years, serving as head coach of the under-18 team and an assistant with the senior side and under-20 squad.
Before coming to the U.S. in 2007, Perez spent six years at Real Madrid as a head coach for its youth teams from under-nine to under-19.
His qualifications include a UEFA Pro Licence, UEFA “`A” Licence and a Ph.D. in sports science from Universidad De Leon in Spain.
TFC captain Michael Bradley's relationship with Perez dates back to their time together with the U.S. national team.
“Javi is a great man, first and foremost. He has a great way with the group, a calm way,” Bradley said Wednesday night. “He was, I think, as disappointed as anyone with Chris getting fired and the results in this last stretch.
“But obviously as he said in the last day or two, it's a big opportunity here for everyone here now to get things going. And he, from the first time he spoke to the group, just in a calm, strong way talked about how we were going to approach the game. Things were laid out in a good, clear way. The work on the (training) field were good and we were able to step on the field (Wednesday) night and execute things in a good way.
“I'm really happy for him. He loves the game. He's as into it as anyone I've been around.”
While Perez only had two days with the team before the New England game, TFC looked more composed. Bradley reverted to a defensive midfielder role, helping the defence distribute the ball.
And with designated players Alejandro Pozuelo and Yeferson Soteldo both starting for the first time together, Toronto had outlets and was able to move the ball quickly.
Toronto (2-8-2) plays Orlando City (6-3-3) on July 17.
The club was slated to return to Toronto on Thursday, taking advantage of loosened pandemic-related restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers and hopes to resume playing at BMO Field. President Bill Manning says the team, which had been based in Orlando, has another U.S. option to play out of if hosting games at BMO Field is not yet feasible.
Wednesday's match represented Toronto's 31st straight game on the road since its last outing at BMO Field on Sept. 1.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2021.