G. Newman Lowrance
Toronto FC had 16 players play in 10 or less games this season. The reasons are varied but it is worth looking at TFC's forgotten men in the 2012 season.
The 2012 MLS season saw each club play 34 games as part of the unbalanced schedule. For Toronto FC there were five players who featured in 30 or more of those games and three that managed to make 30 or more starts on the season. That list was led by Richard Eckersely (32 starts, 33 appearances) Ryan Johnson (31, 31) and Terry Dunfield (30, 30). If you look at it in minutes there were just over 3,000 minutes of MLS play available this season (3,060 without stoppage time) and Toronto had three players that logged over 2,500 minutes this past season. That list is again headed by Eckersley (2,802) and Johnson (2,769) but this time they are joined by Ashtone Morgan who played 2,528 minutes this season.
The other players who logged a lot of minutes for the team this season were Milos Kocic, Luis Silva, Reggie Lambe, Jeremy Hall, Torsten Frings, and Logan Emory who all played over 1,500 minutes for the club this season and featured in over half the available minutes in the league season.
So what about the players who did not manage to collect 1,500 minutes for the club this season? Well, for a variety of different reasons they all saw limited playing time this season. You have the midseason acquisitions like Eric Hassli, Andrew Wiedeman, Darren O'Dea, and Quincy Amarikwa who did not have enough games to log that kind of minutes. Add in the players who were shipped out at different points in the season such as Julian De Guzman, Miguel Aceval, Nick Soolsma, and Joao Plata; the players who spent large portions of the season injured including Danny Koevermans, Doneil Henry, Adrian Cann, Stefan Frei, and Ty Harden (reportedly) and you have only a few players left who do not really have a reason for their low playing time.
Starting with Eric Avila, who did manage to log 1,366 minutes in league play and going all the way down to the four players who failed to log a single league minute and you have TFC's forgotten men. There were 23 players that played less than 1,500 minutes on the season and we have already established the reasoning for most of them but it is worth a closer look as to why these players played so little in trying to figure out what their future with the club might hold.
Eric Avila: the midfielder went through several stretches this year where he had a hard time finding any playing time. His involvement was limited under at times under both Winter and Mariner so it is not like he was just out of favour with one coach. He did manage to make 24 appearances and certainly has some value as an impact sub or depth player in the future if not as a starter.
Danny Koevermans: made 16 appearances and scored 9 goals before suffering his season ending knee injury. The big Dutch forward is a lock to have a spot on the roster next season if he can recover from his operation in time. His goal scorer record in MLS play makes him worth every cent of that Designated Player deal.
Doneil Henry: Had an up and down season making 18 appearances for the club but every time he seemed to be making a spot in the back four his own he suffered an injury setback. He has age on his side and having signed a new deal midway through the season will want to come back healthy in 2013 and lock down a starting CB spot if he can.
Julian De Guzman: Was never a key part of Paul Mariner's plans and was traded midseason to FC Dallas. His high priced DP contract expires this offseason so it will be interesting to see where he winds up. His days in MLS are very likely coming to a close.
Aaron Maund: One of the club's two first round draft picks in 2012 the big CB was well down the bench under Winter but found a lot more playing time under Mariner as a holding midfielder. He did not exactly impress in that position but Mariner seems focused on making it work so he could well be given another chance to impress in 2013 if nothing else changes.
Darren O'Dea: signed in the middle of the season to finally bring some stability to the back line. His games were limited by knocks and international duty but he certainly showed enough talent to suggest that he could be part of an improved defensive unit in 2013.
Andrew Wiedeman: was another Mariner addition who had a few decent moments but not really enough to justify his his contract number. He is no longer on a Generation Adidas deal and despite scoring 2 goals in 15 appearances for TFC he is certainly not a lock to be back next season if the club can find a way to move him out.
Adrian Cann: Had some good stretches where it seemed like he was going to return to the form that saw him be one of the best CB's Toronto has ever had but every time things were looking good another injury sidelined him. The former Canadian international may have his best days behind him as age continues to catch up with him. Any upgrade to the back four would put his place in question.
Joao Plata: was completely out of favour with Mariner before going out on loan back to the club that Toronto bought him from in the offseason. After a stand out rookie season in Toronto it seems that Plata's future is very much in doubt. He is supposed to return to the club for 2013 but after the way this season went I won't be holding my breath on that happening.
Freddy Hall: Signed to provide some depth in goal and ended up making 7 stretches down the stretch with Kocic and Frei on the sidelines for various reasons. He got a real good look from Mariner in those starts and now the question will be is if he did enough to earn a spot next season ahead of either Kocic or Frei. One of them will certainly be the odd man out.
Eric Hassli: Came in from Vancouver Whitecaps to fill in for the injured Koevermans and despite a few good moments he spent most of his time injured. He netted 3 goals in 7 appearances but the question for next year will be if he is worth bringing back on a DP contract. For me he did not do enough to merit the slot but Mariner might just disagree with me on that one.
Quincy Amarikwa: The forward came in midseason and made 11 appearances for the club in league play but failed to get his name on the score sheet even once. Pace alone is not enough to justify bringing him back and hopefully he is shown the door this offseason and forwards really do need to score goals.
Miguel Aceval: Attempt number 73 at finding a solid CB was a bust yet again as the big defender was sent packing early in the season after a couple good games, a lot of bad ones, and a few injuries. He will go down as yet another disappointing defender in the long line that has passed through the club.
Ty Harden: The defender found himself listed on the injury report on and off this season but seemed to be more absent than anything. When he was fit he found himself well down the depth chart and only made 5 appearances with only one coming since the spring when he played 90 minutes against the Portland Timbers. I don't see how he is back next season as he is clearly well down Mariner's depth chart.
Nick Soolsma: Seemed to be falling out of favour with Winter as Lambe moved ahead of him on the depth chart so when he got involved in that night club incident his days with TFC quickly became numbered. He was release this summer after making only 3 starts and 6 sub appearances.
Matt Stinson: After having a breakout season and impressing as a holding midfielder and right mid in 2011 Stinson fell clean off the map in 2012. He slipped well down the depth chart and even struggled to get minutes after Frings went down hurt and JDG was traded. The fact that he was behind an out of position Maund for playing time is worrying. He did suffer a couple of different injuries this season but not enough to explain why he only played 89 minutes. He is young so hopefully he can get back on track in 2013 but it is certainly worrying that he could barely get playing time for either coach.
Dicoy Williams: Spent most of the year recovering from his 2012 knee surgery but when he was fit found himself unable to get on the playing field. He only featured in 2 matches this season for Toronto FC despite earning a recall to the Jamaican National team. Not much chance we see him back next season based on the lack of minutes.
Junior Burgos: Had a good training camp and preseason which earned him a contract with the club but was never more than roster filler under Winter. He was released by the team after only playing 11 minutes in a pair of substitute appearances.
Keith Makabuya: He only played 45 minutes in 2011 so its not like his 10 minutes in 2012 was a big step back but it does show that he is no where near making a break through with the club. His time in Toronto may well come to an end when his deal expires. No real reason to keep him around just to play him in the reserves and the CSL.
Nicholas Lindsay: Proved me and several others wrong just by making it onto the bench for an MLS game after the major injuries he suffered to both of his knees. He is still not back to the level of being able to contribute at the MLS level but his progress is reason to be optimistic that Toronto might give him one more chance in 2013, just don't bank on it.
Oscar Cordon: After making 4 appearances in 2011 Cordon did not earn a single minute this season and despite still being only 18 years of age has not shown that he has what it takes to make it at this level. He had a few good games with the reserve team but his lack of size and strength are concerns. As a home grown player Toronto is in no rush to move on from Cordon though so he will hopefully continue to be given time to develop.
Quillan Roberts: The homegrown goal keeper was supposed to be off to play in NCAA this fall but instead signed a professional deal to help provide cover when Frei went down for the season. He did a good job of sitting on the bench behind Kocic until Freddy Hall arrived but was never called on to do much more. Reports suggest that he has impressed in training and is only 18 years of age so it is not like he is out of time after this season. No reason to believe he won't be back at a third string keeper for next season.
Stefan Frei: Looked like he was going to take back the number one job at the start of the season but a bit of a freak injury in training sidelined him for the season. When fit Frei remains one of the top keepers in the league but his last two seasons have been cut short by injury so hopefully he can get back to that level and return in 2013.