TFC castoff shines in debut

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:14 PM ET

While Toronto FC limped to yet another loss in Columbus, one of the exiles of the Great Preki Purge shined in his debut for his new team.

A day after he was dealt to Colorado, defender Marvell Wynne was forced into the Rapids lineup, without benefit of even a practice. And he was the key to the Rapids' 1-0 win over Chivas USA in Los Angeles.

Through preseason, Preki had made it clear that Wynne wasn’t going to fit into his vision; Nana Attakora was moved from the middle of the defence to Wynne’s position at right back.

And Attakora was the best out of TFC’s back four in the 2-0 loss to Columbus.

But, in his time with TFC, Wynne was never seen as a central option. So, Colorado coach Gary Smith’s decision to convert him into a central defender on less than 24 hours notice, with no real training time with the team, was part emergency, part genius.

“Marvell was outstanding at centre back,” Smith was quoted on MLS’ official website. “He had a five-hour flight, a three-hour time difference and played out of position. I think he was the difference between us getting some points and not. He recovered very well on two or there occasions when mere mortals wouldn't have got there."

On one goal-saving play, Wynne used his speed to make up yards of space and was able to spoil a break by Chivas striker Maykel Galindo.

Ironically, it was the centre of the defence, not the outside, where the Reds were weakest in their loss, as the Crew kept testing Nick Garcia and Ty Harden with cross after cross. And TFC's defending of set plays showed no improvement over last year, when every corner and free kick was met with trepidation by Reds' supporters.

In the first half, Garcia’s mishit back pass to keeper Stefan Frei was stolen by Crew forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto, forcing Frei to bail out the veteran defender. And, Schelotto’s second-half empty netter was the result of an errant Garcia clearance which was clanged off of Frei’s back.

What did Colorado's coaching staff see that TFC didn't see in all of three seasons? Heck, who knew Wynne could have been an option in the middle?

Of all of the players driven out in the Great Preki Purge of 2010, Wynne presents the greatest gamble. Carl Robinson and Adrian Serioux were fan favourites, but are both on the wrong side of 30. Amado Guevara's was never going to be able to coexist with Preki, who cut him when they were together with Chivas. Brian Edwards had some definite upside, but releasing a back-up keeper when most of the other teams in the league have declared their rosters presents little chance of having him claimed, especially after Chicago let starter Jon Busch go — and didn’t generate any interest.

But Wynne is a former No. 1 overall draft pick. And, while his struggles last season pushed him to the periphery of the U.S. national program and quieted any talk of a potential move to Europe, he has plenty of time to recover the form that made him TFC’s best defender in 2008. He was the team’s best player in its September-October mad dash for the eighth and final playoff spot, and Soccer 360, Canada’s national football mag, named Wynne the club’s top player, even though the team named Carl Robinson its MVP of the season.

Really, of the TFC diaspora of 2010, Wynne has the greatest chance of being the one to come back and haunt Preki and director of soccer Mo Johnston. Not that having former TFC players Jeff Cunningham and Conor Casey finish 1-2 in MLS scoring in 2009 didn't sting already.

Nick LaBrocca, who came in from Colorado in the deal, came in a a sub against Columbus and didn't really have an impact; he can't be faulted, he was parachuted into the club and was simply thrown into the fray.

But What Wynne did —new club, short notice, was exceptional. So, after one week, it's Colorado 1, TFC 0 when scoring this deal.


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