Former Red Bulls coach Chris Armas named as Greg Vanney's successor at Toronto FC

Toronto FC confirmed former New York Red Bulls coach Chris Armas as Greg Vanney's successor on Wednesday.

The 48-year-old Armas becomes Toronto's 10th head coach.

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"I could not be more excited to join a club with Toronto FC’s level of excellence and winning tradition and I will work tirelessly to uphold those standards," Armas said in a statement.

"As an opposing coach I felt the passion the fans and supporters bring to BMO Field. It is next level," he added. "I can’t wait to put a team on the field that will not only make them proud with the way we play, but also with the way we run, battle and compete every minute of every game."

Vanney stepped down as head coach and technical director on Dec. 1 after more than six years at TFC's helm. He subsequently was named coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Armas, an elite defensive midfielder during a 12-year playing career with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chicago Fire, was let go as head coach by the Red Bulls last September with the team at 3-4-2.

He inherits a Toronto club that finished runner-up in the regular-season standings at 13-5-5 despite playing just four games at home due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. TFC shifted operations to East Hartford, Conn., exiting in the first round of the playoffs after a 1-0 loss to lower-seeded Nashville.

Armas will join the search for a new designated player, with Toronto opting not pick up the option of Argentine forward Pablo Piatti. Depth in the backline is also a need.

After succeeding Jesse Marsch as head coach of the Red Bulls in July 2018, Armas led the team on a 12-3-3 run to clinch the 2018 Supporters’ Shield. His overall record with New York was 33-27-11 in all competitions.

"Chris has an excellent winning pedigree and is a fiery, competitive guy who wants his teams to play on the front foot," Toronto president Bill Manning said. "He is the right fit to build upon the foundation that’s been established at TFC.

"Our fans are going to love his intensity and how that’s going to translate into our team’s style of play for years to come."

Armas had previously served as a Red Bulls assistant coach for 3 1/2 seasons, two of which were as the top assistant in charge of New York's attack.

Current Toronto GM Ali Curtis was sporting director of the Red Bulls from December 2014 to February 2017.

Curtis said Armas was unmatched when it came to "integrity, authenticity, and professionalism."

"While I have known Chris over the years, during the interview process, he conveyed perspective, vision, and coaching qualities, which solidified our belief in him as the top candidate," he added.

"I am excited about his intensity, passion, tactics, and way of teaching. The resources and support that we will provide to Chris will be different than his previous roles, which we know will be beneficial to his vision and our success. … We are a team that strives to win championships, and Chris is the ideal coach to lead us now, and in the future."

Prior to the Red Bulls, Armas was an assistant coach with the Chicago Fire and head coach of the Adelphi University women’s team in Long Island, N.Y.

The Galaxy drafted Armas seventh overall in the 1996 MLS supplemental draft. That same year, Los Angeles selected Vanney 17th overall in the inaugural MLS College Draft.

Armas, a former Long Island Rough Rider, spent two seasons in L.A. before being traded to the Chicago Fire ahead of their inaugural 1998 campaign. He helped the Fire win both the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup that year.

He was named to the MLS Best XI from 1998 through 2001 before being sidelined by a knee injury. He returned in 2003, earning MLS Comeback Player of the Year and MLS Best XI honours.

Armas, who captained Chicago from 2003 to 2007, played in 264 MLS regular-season games (260 starts) with two goals and 48 assists. He retired at the end of the 2007 season.

On the international front, Armas won 66 caps for the U.S., and was chosen U.S. Soccer's Male Athlete of the Year in 2000.

Toronto said Armas’ coaching staff will be announced at a later date.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan, 13, 3021

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