TORONTO — Back in August 2006 when Mo Johnston was named Toronto FC's first head coach, the former Scottish standout player promised his MLS expansion team would be good from the get-go and that its stadium is "going to rock."
He was right about BMO Field. But Toronto finished last in the 13-team league with a 6-17-7 record in its inaugural 2007 season. Ten years later and eight coaches later, it is MLS champion.
While soccer spans the globe, it can be a small world.
Johnston, whose off-field efforts as salesman for the fledgling Toronto franchise should not be forgotten, had perhaps already done a solid for TFC before signing on. In January 2006, as coach of the then-MetroStars, Johnston took a teenage forward named Jozy Altidore in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft.
Altidore, who chose to wear No. 17 to reflect where he went in the draft, scored 15 goals in 37 regular-season games for the renamed New York Red Bulls before leaving for Europe in 2008.
The U.S. international returned to MLS in 2015, becoming a major piece in the TFC puzzle. On Saturday, Altidore was named man of the match in Toronto's 2-0 MLS Cup final win over Seattle.
Altidore has scored 45 goals in 86 regular-season and playoff games for Toronto. His last two were game-winners in the Eastern Conference final and MLS Cup final.
The MetroStars fired Johnston on June 27, 2006. He was introduced as Toronto's coach less than two months later.
The 2006 draft had more Toronto connections.
Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley, father of current TFC captain Michael Bradley, traded the No. 1 pick to the MetroStars in return for the No. 5 selection and defender Jason Hernandez (a Toronto FC player today).
The MetroStars used that first pick to take defender Marvell Wynne, who would play 67 games for Toronto.
Bob Bradley, whom Johnston succeeded after he was fired by the MetroStars in October 2005, did more than OK in the 2006 draft. He used the fifth pick to take future U.S. international midfielder Sacha Kljestan.
Kljestan scored in a 2-0 win as Chivas spoiled Toronto's MLS debut on April 7, 2007. Chivas was coached by Predrag (Preki) Radosavljevic, who succeeded Bradley in charge of the Goats after he quit to become the U.S. coach.
Preki went on to become Toronto's fourth coach, leading the team to a 7-17-7 record in 2010 before he and Johnston, then director of soccer were fired that September.
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