Toronto FC 2013 Top 36 Countdown: Number 22 - Justin Braun

Yep. That says it all. - John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

Part of Toronto FC's scintillating strike force this season and for far too much of the season one of the reasons it was less than striking; the man with no plan, at Number 22 it's Justin Braun.

Average Ranking: 22.69
Highest Ranking: 12
Lowest Ranking: 36

Kristin: 24. He of the stone feet. I cringe when I see his name on the team sheet and more often than not find myself shouting "No!" when he's being subbed on. Horrible first touch, often seems confused and I find it mystifying that he managed to actually score 2 goals this season.

I look at those words I wrote a few weeks ago and wonder if more time had passed; if we were a bit more removed from the fruitless season that was 2013, would I have softened those words and well, that answer is no. I've been pretty consistent about my lack of love for Braun for most of the season. I want to like him - or at least be OK with the amount of minutes he got this season. I want to look back and say that yes, decent bench depth and away we go.

I was indifferent when he was the result of trading Aaron Maund away - I had a vague idea as to who he was but hey, we weren't exactly full of scoring options so as a bench option, he seemed alright. Even if various watchers of his former teams seemed less than enthused. But still, no one was shouting "dear gods no, don't do it!" and we didn't know his salary ($112,200), so it seemed like an OK bit of business.

And why not, on the face of things he seems like someone you want on your bench - decent speed, imposing physically and a hard worker - if he can pot a few goals and maybe help someone else get a few, then all things are considered even. Sadly Braun did not turn out to be more (or even equal) to the sum of his parts.

Because for all of his hard work; and I'd never fault Braun's work rate; it wasn't just the lack of production that puts him on my 'thanks for coming out, have a safe journey' list - it's the way in which the lack of production manifested itself. The innumerable missed chances - for example against Chicago in September (although there are far worse examples), the terrible first touch and large patches of invisibility during games. Hands up for the number of times you actually remember him playing; other than missing those chances that is. And then lets not forget - OK I lie, we should all forget - that spate as a wide midfielder back in May. *Shudder*

Braunaldih-NO is an appropriate nickname for Justin Braun - mostly because stone feet Braun just doesn't flow. Hard working, fast but lacks the skill to do anything of note, to put it all together and contribute more than just a good effort. Sure he scored two goals way back in the spring when TFC were punching way above their weight, but by the end of the season it was painfully clear - he's not a starter, he's not bench depth at that price and well, he's likely not returning.

I won't protest when he's eventually released - even without shiny new DP signings. I'd even rather have Andrew Wiedeman (by the thinnest of margins) stick around, than Braun remain a Red. And with the signing of Bright Dike Braun's fate really is sealed; he's as imposing physically, has shown some decent bursts of speed and while the touch may not be spectacular his impact on games has been noticeable. And then too Dike and Wiedeman together equal Braun salary wise, so that ticks off the financial box should the Nelsen and the Tims decide they need that much bench depth up front.

However, here's a clip of one of his two goals - hardly stunning but he did put himself in the right place at the right time:

Duncan: 19 There were a few different strikers TFC tried out this season, almost all of them brought something to the table, Earnshaw had a streaky scoring touch, Brockie had a lot of hustle and energy, made things happen. Wiedeman, jokes aside, brought a scoring threat, Dike brought the carnage. Then there's Justin Braun, who didn't really do that much at all did he? He did score twice to be fair, and the one in San Jose was kind of scrappy but a nice enough finish I guess.

A big body who never really seemed to use that big body to cause problems in the way that Dike did later in the season, and didn't really have the touch, the finish or the game sense to contribute in other ways. Of those players still with the club, he's one of the few I'd give a definite thumbs down to when it comes to staying or going. I'd put him 4th on our striker depth chart, even before any fancy DP's arrive, and his salary is way too much for someone in that position.

Dave: 15. He can't really score, his holdup play left a lot to be desired, his size was not even an asset, and his passing was pretty poor. That was Justin Braun this season for TFC and he was one of the more frustrating players to watch because of it. The team needed any sort of quality in the attack but Braun routinely failed to deliver that when he was on the field.

Armen: 24. Braun, aka Dexter Morgan (another Morgan?) didn't have a, ahem, killer season, but he managed to score, which is nice!

James: 21. Wasted a lot of chances and never linked up as well as hoped, but a solid, range-y big man, came in handy killing off matches and pounding defenses - a good offseason of getting fit and knowing he has a place will do him well.

a_miller16: Pretty much entirely useless with the ball, would probably be more effective as a hockey player.

Angus Chung: No. Please. Save us the horrors.

Bruce Harding. The guy we always chucked on and I don't know why. Didn't offer much, needs to go.

Elusivecart: works hard... doesn't score goals

Ferantez. Horrible first touch/ball control, poor passing skills… I like his work rate but that is about it.

Ignirtoq: #theOtherBenefactorOfAWeakClubWithNoDepth

JD: With 1 or 2 new DP's coming in up front, and Dike and potentially Earnshaw as depth, there is no need for Braun next year, especially at his $100k+ salary.

Jon Spratt: Ugh.

Killinghurst: A big bruising body who doesn't provide much other than being a big bruising body.

Michaelvee: Justin Braun. What to say. He's big, he works hard, he can't finish, or create. He makes way too much money and he'll be gone soon.

Mweezy: Please don't be on the team next year. Please stop taking minutes from people who know what they're doing

Prizby: Braun is decepitvely fast, but seems to be out of sorts for whatever reason; he has the ability to be so good, but I don't think he has much of a football head; I keep trying to defend him though, but it is hard to defend a guy I liked when he played for Chivas USA in his 2010/11 years (a side note here; he was my leading scorer 2 years running when TFC won the Cup (both times) in FM13!)

Red Wine Roz: The most frustrating man on the pitch.

Robert Snider: A waste of height - but saw him interviewed by Rachel Bonneta and he was quite good - future in broadcasting maybe.

Schtevetown: He scored how many goals for Chivas that year? This guy was one of the worst players with the ball at his feet we have ever had... and this is TFC so that is saying something.

Shel soccer Don: Good size, good speed, great work ethic. Just wish he could score

Spence Snell: I know he had 2 goals and 2 assists, but I still feel like he's predominantly useless

The Yorkies: Now we know what Chad Barrett looks like in slow motion. Without the touch.

Tim: A little like Brockie just taller and did complement Earnshaw somewhat better then Brockie.

TimmerJ_75:

Tyler: Please don't let me see him play again. He is the ALMOST the only player you can pretty much guarantee will always miss the target.

Yohan: Braun is a prototype MLS 1.0 striker who gives max effort, but just don't have the technical ability to succeed in MLS 2.0. He's strong, decent presence in the air, but lacks pace and has one of the worst first touches ever. If he started his soccer training younger, instead of at high school, he might have turned out decent. At 100k, he's too expensive to keep around, especially with more strikers coming in.

Number 21: Kyle Bekker

Number 23: Terry Dunfield

Full Top 36 Countdown

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