Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tim Leiweke to leave Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

Image vie The Canadian Press/Jesse Johnston
Since Tim Leiweke joined Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, owners of Toronto FC, in 2013 he has been an instrumental member of a team that took a failing franchise into a top Major League Soccer side. From player acquisitions to an overall team change, Leiweke has certainly changed Toronto's soccer club.

In 2007, Tim Leiweke paved the way to the United States for top players by signing David Beckham to the Los Angeles Galaxy. By doing so, he indirectly created the Designated Player Rule (DP) which allows each MLS franchise to sign players that would be considered outside of the team's salary cap (either by offering the player higher wages or by paying a transfer fee for the player), allowing MLS teams to compete for star players in the international soccer market.

Six years later, he joins Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and takes part in a rebuilding project for Toronto FC. In his first season with Toronto FC, Leiweke started his process to make the team a formidable MLS team by clearing cap space for what would be a massive franchise change in 2014.

In December 2013, Toronto FC made their first major acquisition in Gilberto, a young Brazilian forward who had played in numerous Brazilian clubs. The club also brought Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario back after a three year exodus from Toronto.

In January 2014, Toronto signed American and English international in Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe. For a combined $20 million, Toronto had made a major move in Major League Soccer history. Bradley would later be part of the United States' 2014 FIFA World Cup squad.

The following month, Brazilian international Julio Cesar signed on loan from Queens Park Rangers, a London based club where the goalkeeper was not getting playing time. Needing attention heading into the World Cup, Cesar was another veteran player who had previously spent 7 years with Italian club, Internazionale, where he won 5 Serie A titles, 3 Coppa Italia's, as well as a Champions League and Club World Cup trophy.

Leiweke will leave Toronto in June 2015, unless a successor is found beforehand. Whoever takes the keys to BMO Field will be known at a later date. But one thing is certain, whoever takes it will have big shoes to fill.

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