July 22, 2012
TFC given mid-season report card
By KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency
Heading into the mid-season all-star break, the high and lows of 2012 have been extreme. From Champions League glory to TFC’s unprecedented 0-9-0 start, here’s a recap of the first half of the club’s sixth season.
A) Milos Kocic
Anything less would be criminal for a ’keeper that has had no support. Truth be told, the Reds haven’t missed Stefan Frei since the club’s former No. 1 went down with injury. While Kocic has to work on his distribution, he’s one of the best shot-stoppers in MLS.
C) Logan Emory
The former Puerto Rico Islander has been a serviceable replacement following disappointing debuts from Geovanny Caicedo and Miguel Aceval. Still, a poor showing against Columbus and a sending off in Montreal left many uncertain. Although not a permanent starter in this league, Emory is good value for price and is a better option than Adrian Cann.
F) Miguel Aceval
Looking constantly overweight, the Chilean is one of the worst acquisitions in TFC’s short history. A knee-jerk, emergency signing before the season, his arrest in Houston didn’t do much to help his fledgling cause -- nor does the fact he’s currently eating up big time cap space.
B) Doneil Henry
The player head coach Paul Mariner believes “could go all the way” has been impressive. The 19-year-old struggles to read the game at times, but has made up for it with a slew of well-timed tackles against some of the top players in North America. That said, Henry struggles as a fullback by over-committing and allowing players to exploit the space behind him.
B) Ashtone Morgan
The club rewarded its academy darling with a new contract in 2012 with the hope he will one day be worth quite a bit more. Although his service has been impeccable, the 21-year-old is far from being a complete player. Morgan struggles in tight spaces and puts his head down in the final third, all things he’ll start to correct as he enters a crucial stage in his career.
B) Jeremy Hall
Smart on the ball and careful not to lose possession in bad places, Hall’s acquisition might be one of the most clever yet at BMO Field. With Richard Eckersley certain to move back to fullback, the 23-year-old will likely move back to the bench, where Paul Mariner will use him as his first or second option depending on match plot.
C) Richard Eckersley
Recent form has raised Eckersley’s grade significantly following early struggles that saw the Englishman relegated to the bench under Aron Winter. An own goal in Salt Lake and multiple missed assignments turned fans sour following a solid first season. Worse, his massive price tag was made public earlier this year, which has many wondering if his purchase from Burnley was money well spent.
C) Eric Avila
For two seasons we’ve watch Avila chase consecutive quality performances — it hasn’t happened. Sure, he’s capable of going off any given Saturday but the numbers haven’t been there in 2012. After watching him score a beauty against Real Salt Lake, maybe the expectations for one of TFC’s more creative options are too high.
A) Luis Silva
Not much more a first-year pro can do. Highly regarded by coaches around the league, Toronto’s fourth-overall pick has played well in multiple roles under both Paul Mariner and Aron Winter. While most U.S. college players emerge with power and speed, Silva has unique vision that’s rarely replicated in the MLS draft.
B) Torsten Frings
There were questions early in the season as to whether the club’s reliable captain could handle the travel demands and physicality of a marathon league. But after coming on strong with big goals against Toronto’s two Canadian rivals, Frings looks every bit as hungry as he was when he made his BMO Field debut a little over a year ago. In Aron Winter’s 4-3-3, Frings lacked the freedom to get forward — something Paul Mariner has changed.
C) Terry Dunfield
No matter which side of the fence you’re on, Dunfield’s form in recent weeks has been unbelievable. That said, mid-season heroics don’t make up for a rather gingerly start. In Julian de Guzman’s absence, head coach Paul Mariner has instilled a great deal of confidence in a player that recently had his confidence shattered by not being selected by Canada. The grade might be harsh, but until Dunfield shows he can sustain his form for longer than a month it is what it is.
C) Ryan Johnson
Nobody will question Johnson’s work ethic. Unfortunately, there’s more to being a go-to front man then running yourself ragged each time out. The Jamaican has to finish more than once out of every five chances in front of goal. Despite being prolific during a run of games early in the season, Toronto won’t get results unless Johnson starts to finish.
B) Danny Koevermans
Over the last two months, other than Chris Wondolowski in San Jose, there hasn’t been a more prolific scorer in the league. That said, it took Koevermans three months to find his form. Amid allegations Toronto’s target man entered preseason woefully out of shape, a season-ending ACL injury has the Dutchman’s return in doubt. Head coach Paul Mariner expects him back next May, but it depends on how serious TFC’s Designated Player takes his rehab.
B) Reggie Lambe
A slow start saw many turn a cold shoulder to the Bermudian, who continues to gain more confidence each time out. The final product is still missing, but his pace and ability with the ball at his feet is becoming obvious. Like Avila, though, some big-time moments — goals against Chicago and in the Canadian Championship final — are often replaced by quiet showings.
C Adrian Cann
Unlikely he’ll ever regain the form that saw him named TFC’s 2010 player of the year.
C Ty Harden
He is what he is, a reserve centre back that should only be called upon in times of crises.
D Aaron Maund
Am I wrong for expecting more out of the draft’s 12th overall selection?
C Matt Stinson
The TFC academy product has shown well in training and will likely be re-signed when talks arise.
F Joao Plata
Plata was a huge letdown following a big first year. The young Ecuadorian also took heat for how he handled his loan back to LDU Quito.
C Julian de Guzman
His services simply never commanded the salary his DP status bestowed on him.
B Nick Soolsma
The bar-brawlin’ Dutchman always seemed to make a difference when inserted into big matches.
BEST MOMENT SO FAR
July 11, 2012, TFC 3 - Whitecaps 2, BMO Field
It looked as though TFC would conceded a late lead for the third time in three weeks until a stoppage-time winner came from the unlikeliest of sources. Terry Dunfield nodded home the winner in the final seconds, lifting the close to 20,000 in attendance to their feet in what’s likely the best ending to a match in BMO Field’s short history.
WORST MOMENT SO FAR
April 28, 2012, Real Salt Lake 3 - TFC 2, Rio Tinto Stadium
After fighting back twice to the level the proceedings in Utah, you could feel the home side’s eventual winner coming when the ball dropped to Jonny Steele at the top of the penalty area. The Irish midfielder made no doubt about it, curling it past a helpless Milos Kocic in the 93rd to give the home side a stoppage-time winner, and send Toronto to its seventh straight defeat.
BEST LEAGUE RESULT
June 27, 2012, Impact 0 - TFC 3, Saputo Stadium
The real fun began when cameras panned to Impact owner Joey Saputo nearly pulling his hair out.