Toronto FC Top 31 Countdown: Number 14 - Doneil Henry

Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

Another year where he got more playing time than would have been expected, a lot of it at right back. He got his first cap for Canada, and scored the winner against the US in the under 23 Olympic qualifier. Last year he got number 19 out of 40, this year, at number 14, it's Doneil Henry.

Average Ranking: 13.53
Highest Ranking: 6
Lowest ranking: 18

Duncan: 14

After a promising first full season with TFC, where he got more playing time than was probably the plan, surely this would be more of a learning year for Doneil, what with the new Centre Backs we brought in. Some reserve games, some sub appearances maybe, that sort of thing. That impression was reinforced when the Olympic qualifying tournament came around, and while Ashtone Morgan stayed behind with Toronto, Henry, along with Matt Stinson was allowed to go stand on guard down in Kansas City.

That led to the best moment of his season when in the group stage, he more than played his part in the win over the U.S, playing well in defence to get the clean sheet, as well as scoring the crucial first goal with a header from a corner, as seen below.

In the semi final against Mexico, he almost scored again, a header being cleared off the line, and when he made his season debut for TFC in the second leg against Santos Laguna, he had another header cleared off the line as TFC desperately tried to get back into the game.

A few sub appearances in the league followed, including scoring a goal against Real Salt lake, before it became clear that Aceval and Harden and Emory weren't the answer and thus he got a long line of starts in May and June. He played every minute of the Voyageurs Cup win, forming an effective partnership with Adrian Cann, leading me to optimistically speculate that they could form a consistent long term partnership that might finally solve TFC's centre back problem. It didn't quite translate to league play, but he did play the full 90 in that first shutout win against Philadelphia.

After Paul Mariner came in, Henry and Cann were initially kept together, but the changed style of play really didn't help and after Cann went down with an injury, Henry really didn't look good as Kansas took an early 2 goal lead and cruised home and both Houston and New England came back from two goals down. He was rested for a few games with Richard Eckersley and Logan Emory tried out as the new centre back partnership of choice, until Jeremy Hall picked up an injury and Henry was drafted in at right back. He played most of the game against Vancouver, and the full 90 in the wins over New England and Colorado.

He was OK at right back, but it was still a very curious decision to have him there and Eckersley in the middle, especially when it came to attacking, his support of the winger down the flanks never really looked better than awkward. Having said that, check out his move to beat his man by the corner flag before cutting the ball back for the shot that led to Andrew Wiedeman's goal.

He also showed a remarkable propensity for injuring his own teammates, causing Torsten Frings' shoulder injury, as well as giving Milos Kocic a knee to the face in Chicago.

Injuries limited him to 2 appearances in the last 12 league games, but he'd still done more than enough to earn two important career milestones. His first cap for Canada's senior men's team came in the friendly against Trinidad and Tobago, playing the first 45 minutes of a 2-0 win. Less than a week later, he signed a long term contract with the club. In between those 2 things, he picked up a knee injury that kept him out of most of the rest of the season. His year ended with a call up for the Canada u-20 camp currently going on, the only TFC or TFCA player to be called up, and it's a good bet that next year will start for him with the U20 Concacaf World Cup Qualifying tournament.

With that contract in place, he'll be with the club for a while and should eventually become a regular starter at centre back, a position he'll hopefully earn rather than get by default when yet more new signings fail to prove themselves.

Dave: 11 The young CB suffered some injury set backs this season but on the whole he showed that he is continuing to develop into a solid defender with a really good head. He certainly still has to improve his marking and positioning but the basics are there for Henry to be a solid player at this level.

John: 14 Like Morgan, could be a piece for the future -- if he's actually part of Mariner's plans.

Michael: 15 Promising depth player.

Kristin: 16 Future looks bright for him but was kept off the field for much of the season.

The Ghost Of TFC Future: Wins the award for most times asked "Why isn't he playing? It's not like we can still make the playoffs" I still think he has a big upside. Scored a nice goal off a header against RSL. I hope he gets more time next season.

The Yorkies: The defence is literally this kid's oyster if he can improve. It's a shop, go out there and take what you want Doneil.

Casual Soccer Fan: Gets better every year.

DichioTFC: Doneil will be a fixture at this club for years to come, having signed a long-term deal in late August with fellow Academy graduate and overachiever Ashtone Morgan. 2012 had some bright spots for the young defender, earning his first cap for Canada in a friendly against Trinidad. The future is definitely bright and barring any setbacks, like what happened to the other Academy graduate Nicholas Lindsay, Henry should become one of the league's better CBs.

Shem: Too bad he got injured. Centre Back problem solved (in a couple of years).

Prizby: Probably could have a higher ranking if injury issues and his subsequent “benching” (Paul Mariner not wanting to play him or just playing him out of position) led to fans not seeing his entire make up as a defender. If he is to ever reach his potential, he is going to need to see games, and soon.

Sir Alphonso Applegate: Really liked what I saw from Henry and is probably getting a bump from looking so strong in the U-23 tournament. He and O'Dea should be the opening day CB pairing unless a higher profile CB is brought in (so it will clearly be Henry and O'Dea starting the 2013 season).

JC_Plante: The CB was at RB and the RB at CB. That made sense, right?

Panos Kelamis: Similarly to Morgan, he can develop into a starting centreback in the MLS, however he needs time.

Number 13: Eric Avila

Number 15: Logan Emory

Full Top 31 Countdown

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