Alum guides team to Major League Soccer championship

January 4, 2021

Spider Pride

While some sports were put on hold this year, Major League Soccer held its championship game — and a Spider helped lead the winning team to victory. 

Tim Bezbatchenko, a 2004 Richmond grad, is the president and general manager of Columbus Crew SC in Ohio, his home state. The team won 3-0 against defending champion Seattle Sounders, earning the second title in Columbus Crew’s history. The Crew won its first championship in 2008. 

While at Richmond, Bezbatchenko studied economics and leadership studies and has said he’s used his background in the Jepson School as his career led him to the top of the professional soccer club arena.

“Leadership really is about what we learned at the Jepson School — understanding people's motivations, communicating well, and marshaling a mission,” he said. “Jepson helped me learn how to approach intricate problems in complex environments.”

A former lawyer with the international firm Shearman & Sterling in New York, he left his job as senior director of player relations and competition for Major League Soccer to go to Toronto FC. 

Bezbatchenko played midfielder for UR, and later for Pittsburgh’s pro team, the Riverhounds.

In Columbus, he’s responsible for soccer operations and the business side of the organization. 

“Jepson taught me effective organizations are driven by a vision,” he says. “One of the first things I did was sit down and talk with the players, coaches and fans to carefully listen and understand the club. Those conversations helped to create the vision that we're now striving to achieve.”