TFC fans "weren't gonna take it anymore," and neither is Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
The Reds ownership group fired general manager Mo Johnston and coach Preki on Tuesday, with the side poised to miss the playoffs again in its fourth season of existence. Toronto made the announcement during a press conference.
Assistant Nick Dasovic was named interim coach.
"It just felt like it was heading in the wrong direction," said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and CEO of MLSE. "We knew we needed to make the call this year."
"Obviously this was a tough decision."
After showing promise at the start of the season, the Reds have yet again failed to deliver second-half results and find themselves five points out of an MLS playoff spot with six games remaining.
"It came as a shock when everyone came in this morning and heard the news …I think the consensus of the group is just the focus to make the playoffs, we don't want anything off the field to interfere with that," Dwayne De Rosario told the CBC's Nigel Reed on Tuesday.
"I think a lot of the guys were happy — I can't say that they weren't — but in the same sense, we know that regardless of who the coach is, regardless of what the situation is we have a task at hand and that is to improve from last game and make a push for the playoffs."
Unless the Reds see a miraculous turnaround in road form, they will likely miss the playoffs again this year. TFC hasn't experienced post-season play during its four years in Major League Soccer. The announcement comes as the Reds are mired in a six-match winless streak.
During the team's latest match, a limp 1-0 loss at home against the MLS-worst DC United, the always-passionate Reds faithful serenaded the team with the refrain from We're Not Gonna Take It, the hit from '80s hair band Twisted Sister.
MLS expands to 34-game schedule
Major League Soccer announced Tuesday that the league will add four more games to the schedule beginning next season.
With two new teams entering MLS next season (Vancouver and Portland), a 30-game schedule wouldn't allow the league to keep its format of having each team play every MLS side at least twice (one home game, one away).
The league didn't say how the new schedule would look yet. MLS also announced that it will keep its contentious policy of not taking a break for FIFA's international dates nor for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Toronto plays four of its remaining six games away from BMO Field.
Making the post-season was the major priority for a TFC side that is hosting the MLS Cup this year and finished one point out of the playoffs last season.
"The players play up to their potential, we can still make the playoffs [this season]," Anselmi said.
Though the Reds successfully made it to the CONCACAF Champions League group stage this season, it appears this wasn't reason enough for MLSE to keep Johnston and Preki around.
Johnston hired Preki last November, hoping his great MLS track record (including a coach of the year award in 2007 with Chivas USA) would transfer into a playoff berth for the Reds. Preki and Johnston were teammates with English side Everton and Kansas City, winning the MLS Cup in 2000.
Though Toronto started in good form in the first part of the season, going 5-4-1 and winning the Canadian Championship to open the campaign, the Reds couldn't maintain the momentum. Preki is leaving TFC with a 7-10-7 record as the team sits ninth overall.
"We had our moments when a lot of the guys weren't on the same page as him and that had an effect on the atmosphere in the change room," said midfielder Julian de Guzman. "You definitely felt that was missing in the team's success."
Johnston was the Reds' first head coach when Toronto began play in 2006, moving to the front office in 2008. Since then, Johnston has had three coaches patrol Toronto's touchline — John Carver, Chris Cummins, and Preki. Johnston leaves TFC with a 32-50-31 record in four seasons.
"This club has grown to become one of the finest teams in MLS and it's been an honour to be part of it from the beginning," Johnston said in a separate release. "I wish everyone involved with the club the greatest success. TFC will always be in my heart."
Dasovic joined TFC as its youth academy head coach in 2008, becoming an assistant with the big club in 2009.
"It's probably one of the toughest jobs [in the league]," he said. "But I'm ready for it."
Before he joined TFC, Dasovic coached the Canadian under-23 squad, which nearly qualified for the 2008 Olympics.