SPORTS

Leiweke: No regrets over playoff promise despite Toronto FC's failure to deliver

11/04/2014 04:54 EST | Updated 01/04/2015 05:59 EST
TORONTO - Tim Leiweke has no regrets about promising that Toronto FC would finally make the post-season in 2014.

"I do not regret a commitment to make the playoffs. I regret not making the playoffs. And that's a big difference," the MLSE boss said Tuesday. "I'm fairly certain Winston Churchill didn't go into the war saying, 'Whatever you guys do, don't say we're going to win.'

"I've never met a championship-calibre organization that I've been around that didn't want to be a champion. And so we cannot and will not be afraid of setting goals and standards for ourselves and demanding that we achieve them. And occasionally it means we're going to have to live with a little bit of a kick in the pants. I take the kick in the pants, as nothing more than a motivation that we've got to do better.

Despite an outlay of millions on designated players Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe and Gilberto and firing manager Ryan Nelsen and five assistant coaches 24 games into the season, Toronto (11-15-8) finished seventh in the Eastern Conference — eight points out of the playoffs.

Leiweke made his famous playoff promise in October 2013 at an Empire Club luncheon speech about the future of MLSE teams and plans to improve them.

The underachieving soccer team had just finished 17th in the 19-team league with a 6-17-11 record.

"Our soccer team is absolutely in complete disarray,'' said Leiweke, drawing laughs.

But the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment president and CEO, who had taken over that summer, also told the luncheon that change was coming.

"The team we turn the quickest will be TFC and we'll turn them (in 2014),'' he said.

"Mark it down, write it down, film it .... We're going to turn TFC around and we're going to make the playoffs next year. We know where we're headed, we know how to get there. We've been given the resources of this ownership group and we will get to the right place.''

Toronto finished 13th overall this season.

———

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

MORE:cpSports