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Ryan Nelsen named Head Coach at Toronto FC, won't be coming to D.C. United

The former D.C. title-winning defender won't be coming back to Washington in any capacity - except as a visiting coach.

Scott Heavey

There was a time, not too long ago - last Friday, in fact - when we thought that former D.C. United and MLS Best XI center back Ryan Nelsen could be returning to the DMV as a player, coach or both.

Today, we can put that notion to be once and for all, as the New Zealand international was officially announced this morning as the eighth head coach of Toronto FC. Nelsen, of course, is currently under contract - just as a player - for English side Queens Park Rangers, and he'll see out his obligations to them before assuming the day-to-day duties in Toronto. This will mean missing the MLS Combine and the SuperDraft.

Speaking of the draft, D.C. United selected the Kiwi early in the 2001 edition, and Nelsen would go on to help the Black-and-Red to our fourth MLS Cup title in 2004. He moved on to England and Blackburn Rovers on a free transfer after the 2004 MLS season, and United fans have been hoping for a return to the Nation's Capital ever since. Alas, it looks like that ship has finally sailed.

Turning back to TFC, the Reds have certainly seen a lot of non-player personnel movement this offseason, what with the appointment of Kevin Payne to head up the front office and now Ryan Nelsen to take the reigns on the sideline. Essentially, it's starting to look like Toronto FC are trying to become D.C. United North (just wackier, what with the Nelson-still-playing-for-QPR thing). Take our President; hire a targeted player-coach as head coach, possibly poach another DCU player target. TFC have been in the woods for... their entire existence, really. Maybe this is them setting their sights on the most successful model MLS has seen and then trying to copy it. Remember, D.C., imitation is the highest form of flattery, even pale imitation. (That said, keep your grubby mitts off our Dejan Jakovic and Dwayne De Rosario, Toronto! You Canadians get them on FIFA dates, but the rest of the year, they're ours!)

For the TFC perspective on Nelsen's appointment, be sure to check out our sister site Waking the Red.