Toronto FC Top 31 Countdown: Number 1 - Danny Koevermans

Check out that vertical leap! - John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

He gave us that awesome "Worst team in the world" interview and a great run of goals amidst our oh so brief streak of competence. Can he come back and once again be the best natural goalscorer in the league? Let's hope so.

Average Ranking: 3.00
Highest Ranking: 1
Lowest Ranking: 7

Duncan: 1 Yes, he didn't even play in half the games, and even in those he played, it seemed to be a while before he got to full fitness, and he's at number one? Yep, and sadly enough, it's deservedly so. He was our highest goalscorer despite the lack of playing time, and really, the difference in TFC's games with him at top fitness, and without him were big enough for me personally to give him my vote for number one.

The year started with memories of his fine run of form at the end of 2011 prompting musings of a 20 goal campaign, with Johnson, plata and the rest to be relied on merely for secondary scoring. It didn't really get going for him though at the start of the season, whether due to a lack of fitness meaning he wasn't at his sharpest or just denied by some great saves. His first goal didn't come until the game in Montreal, with TFC now knocked out of the CCL and already at 0-3 in the league. It was classic Koevermans, smart movement to create a half yard of space in the box, and the header going just inside the post.

A minor injury disrupted his quest for fitness, and knocked him to the subs bench, from where he did manage to score against DC to bring that game back to 2-1, a smart run behind the defence to deftly flick in a Julian de Guzman free kick. That hope was quickly extinguished with a goal conceded almost immediately to restore the cushion and guarantee the loss and that of course led to this infamous post game interview, oft misquoted without the "setting the record of..." before the money quote of "the worst team in the world."

It was Koevermans of course who broke that run, scoring the winner after coming off the bench against Philadelphia due to some criminally inept defending by the Union. That wasn't enough to keep Aron Winter around, with reports of Koevermans lobbying management for his release.

It was the start of a great run of form similar to what we saw last year, with the goals now flowing. Markers were routinely lost and balls guided home, he linked up particularly well with Ashtone Morgan's crosses from the left. Including those last 2 games under Winter, he had 8 goals in 10 games, and TFC were finally getting wins and points, and climbing towards the back of the pack ahead of them. Then came that injury in New England, an ACL injury, done for the season. Bugger. TFC did win that game, and the next as well against another bottom feeder in Colorado, but his absence was a massive part of the 14 game winless streak to end the league campaign. It wasn't just his goals, though they were obviously a huge part of it, he also brought an attacking threat that had to be respected. Eric Hassli did the same when he was playing, but without them, teams were too free to attack, there wasn't that same worry about the defence, so that just increased the pressure they were able to put onto TFC.

All indications point to Koevermans being back next season, though probably not until Late April/May according to the latest word out of TFC, which probably means mid may at the earliest and June sometime before he's anywhere near peak fitness. Will TFC survive that long without him on the field but with his wage tying up budget resources, or will the season be over by then, again? When he does come back, is a 34 year old coming back off a serious injury the best bet to carry your team's hopes? What off the years after that, when Kevin Payne said we'd be seriously challenging for honours? Is he still going to be around then?

There are a lot of questions for sure, but this season he once again showed that when fit, he's one of the best natural goalscorers in the league, and a thoroughly vital and unreplaceable part of the squad. If we get another half year, or year and a half of the same Koevermans, then that talk of challenging for playoffs and ultimately more might stand a chance of coming true.

Dave: 6 He had a slow start to the season and many were questioning his fitness but when he got rolling he was back to being an unstoppable force in front of goal. He was back around that goal a game pace in the middle of the season before he went down with a season ending injury. There is not doubt that he is one of the best pure goal scorers in the league but now the question is if he can get back to that level.

Michael: 3 When he scores, team's record improves greatly. Future health a huge question mark

John: 3 Was great until he went out injured.

Kristin: 2 An in form, in shape Danny would be #1. Once he stopped played Catan and finally reached match fitness they were a different team. His ability to find those little pockets of space, hold the ball and score like almost no other. And he makes it easier for his teammates to score by drawing the defense and being surprisingly quick (or as quick as Danny can be).

The Yorkies: So sad that a guy who played a couple of months is this high (7) AND leading scorer. Settles a mean Catan.

The Ghost Of TFC Future: Didn't get many games in, but we probably owe at least half our points in the league to his goals. Can't imagine how things would have been without him.

Casual Soccer Fan: When fit, he's indispensible.

DichioTFC: Most. Valuable. Player. There are so many metrics to judge such a vague category, but for me, its the value a player brings above and beyond his replacement. Frings was relatively irreplacable, but in a sport where putting the ball in the back of the net is the hardest thing to do, Danny K deserves top spot.

In 16 games, Danny hit the back of the net 9 times, and also had 2 assists illustrating the underrated aspect of his game as a great passer and a league leading targetman, for a strike rate of 21 goals that would have put him second in the league only to Chris Wondolowski. A danger in the air and a threat facing the net, he was the polar opposite of inconsistent Ryan Johnson as Koevermans hit the net 24 times in 39 attempts, earning 26th place on Castrol Rankings. He was a threat in the air and deadly in front of goal.

Detractors will mention that Koevermans played in only 16 games and had fewer than 1200 minutes, almost 40% of Eckersley team-leading total, which are undeniable facts. However, two aspects of King Koev this season lead me to call him the team's MVP. First, as I mentioned earlier, I judge MVP as the person who has the greatest value over his replacement. My top 4 (Koevermans, Frings, Eckersley and Silva) were all far better than their nearest competitor, but the striker position was a mess without Koevermans. Ryan Johnson was inconsistent, emergency replacement Eric Hassli underwhelmed before he got injured, and other replacements Amarikwa and Wiedeman are depth players at best. Koevermans proved himself to be the definition of irreplacable.

After Danny's injury, Toronto scored more than 1 goal only twice in league play, a sign of his value. The second aspect is admittedly more subjective. As my 75 Mile Bastard clique within Red Patch Boys can attest, I was annoyingly confident of TFC making the playoffs this year. As we went 0-3, to 0-6, to 0-9, I never waivered in my faith for one simple reason. Danny K will win us games. And during the post-Winter stretch, Koevermans single-handedly earned TFC points. The game winner against Philly. Scoring two in Houston. An early goal in a tied effort against New England. The 3rd TFC goal at Stade Saputo. Tying goal against New York. Against Dallas in Dallas. Confidence spread throughout the team as TFC beat Vancouver at the death. I kept chirping about making the playoffs, going against 0-9, and still making it. This was Toronto's year. Then the unthinkable - Danny goes down on turf in New England. I'm sure I wasn't the only who felt the air leaving the team when it happened. The team fought for Danny, winning that match then the next one against Colorado. They even managed a massive beat down of CD Aguila in Champions League in early September. But the writing was on the wall - the playoff dream was officially over. When a player's injury, with 60% of the season left, is a sign that the the playoffs were not happening - that, my friends, is the team's Most Valuable Player.

Shem: Still topscorer, but it could (should) have been so much more…

Prizby: A prolific scorer who came into form near the end of Winter’s reign and continued his form until his season ending ACL tear kept him from finishing number one in these rankings.

Sir Alphonso Applegate: Love Danny K but the pre-season fattiness followed by mid-season injuriness was beyond unfortunate. Single biggest reason why we had a competitive stretch mid-season.

Ignirtoq: Had it not been for his injury, Wondolowski would never had known what it felt like to win the golden boot this year #truth

Shel Soze: Did what he was suppose to when healthy and fit. Next years a write off, he'll be fatter and have a bum knee

JC_Plante: Started only 12 matches. Still led the team in goals. Sorely missed.

Panos Kelamis: Too many Dutch waffle cookies ruined his pre-season, and then we he got rolling the turf monster in New England destroyed his knee; afraid his career might be over.

Number 2: Terry Dunfield

Full Top 31 Countdown

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