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Toronto FC 2011 Top 40 Countdown: Number 21 - Andy Iro

So many things in this picture.  The ridiculously dominant jump, the amusing facial expression, the sneaky elbow to the nads, but mainly...what the hell is up with Le Toux's boots?  Seriously.
So many things in this picture. The ridiculously dominant jump, the amusing facial expression, the sneaky elbow to the nads, but mainly...what the hell is up with Le Toux's boots? Seriously.

Yesterday we profiled Tony Tchani, and today's Toronto FC Top 40 Countdown entrant is the man he was traded for.  Rounding off the bottom half of the top 40, at number 21, it's Andy Iro.

Average Ranking: 20.636
Highest Ranking: 11
Lowest ranking: 31

Duncan: 17. That Tchani for Iro trade doesn't look so hot now, and may well look like a huge mistake a few years from now, but I still think it was a worthwhile gamble to take.  Tchani was surplus to requirements, and we clearly needed a Centre Back to build the defence around, Iro is an imposing physical presence and had looked quite good in Columbus, it was worth a shot.

As I've written many times, there's obviously a difference between playing alongside one of the premier defenders in MLS in Chad Marshall, amid a well organised Columbus team, and being The Man asked to rescue the chaos that passed for TFC's defence early this year.  

Iro quickly showed that he wasn't good enough to pull off that near impossible job, as the first few games after his arrival showed little improvement in the defence as a whole, and it culminated in the nadir of Iro's season in the 3-3 tie against D.C United.  That was when Aron Winter went for broke in his substitutions, and left Iro at the centre of a 3 man defence alongside Torsten Frings and Ashtone Morgan.  It really didn't work well, and Iro's mistakes directly led to two goals as ten man D.C almost won.  TSN's broadcast that night ended with a shot of Iro post game, sat on the pitch looking thoroughly defeated.  That game was the third consecutive game in which Iro conceded a penalty, and it marked the end of the hope he could be the man to stabilise the back 4.

The next game saw Torsten Frings moved back into a 5 man defence, something that was repeated for most of the games for the rest of the year.  When asked to do a simpler job and not try too much, Iro did it well, he was a solid presence at the back, more or less an ever present for the rest of the season and really played his part in TFC's CCL success.  By then of course he'd already been fitted for the Nick Garcia Commemorative Goat Horns by TFC fans who'd made up their mind he was crap, but he put in a magnificent effort against Pumas at home, looking absolutely exhausted at the end, and probably his best game of the season was against Dallas, as part of a back 4 of himself, Ty Harden, Ashtone Morgan and an out of position Doneil Henry.  

I'm genuinely a fan of Iro, and I'd be more than happy to see him back next year, hopefully to be the partner for an excellent and as yet unknown CB who is good enough to organise our chaos, and allow Frings to move back into midfield, or even more ideally, to be depth, the backup to that guy and Adrian Cann.  Let Iro be Iro, don't ask him to do too much, and he'll do a decent job.

On a side note, after the 90th minute party, when the players had done their mingling duty and most of them had snuck out the back door, Iro was one of the three who stayed and chatted and had drinks at the bar with the few fans left, good on him for that.  Also it would be wrong for me not to link to this picture tweeted by Eric Avila.  Yikes.

Dave: 11. The English center back had his moments where he seemed to be capable of doing the right thing but they were few and far between. In fairness he was better with Frings next to him as Iro is clearly not a leader in the defence but it is hard to look past all the mistakes he made. Iro alone seemed to be the cause of so many goals for opposing teams from set pieces as he seemed unable to mark his man. His lack of real pace also proved to be an issue in many games. He did never give up or get to down on himself which was nice to see.

Keaton: 31. Iro is big. He's also a little too big for his body sometimes. Iro got better as he went along this year. But my word Andy, what the frig were you doing/ thinking/ smoking/snorting those first 4 games? Iro did not live up to what TFC expected, but I can see him sticking around a little longer, or at least until we sign a couple other CB's.

Blindfolded tank Driver: Depth CB on a good squad, falls behind Cann, Williams and Harden on depth chart. Can be a absolute horror show in the 18 yard box, improved as the season worn on, could've only gotten better.

Devon Taylor: Has had a lot of playing time due to others injuries, but makes a lot of awkward mistakes or clumsy tackles. Probably not in Winter's longterm plans

Blindfolded Tank Driver: Concrete feet

Jimmy Stone: Has his critics but also has had good games. Centre back is one of the positions that will be looked at during the transfer window.

The Yorkies: Have to believe capable of better

JC_Plante: He did have that one good game ... Sigh... Would not be playing as much without injuries to Cann/Williams

Red Wine Roz:  It has been established that me hitting on him would not make me a cougar.

James: Blamed for too much, like his skillset & intelligence. Could really flourish here if the mistakes can be limited.

Kristin: Not as bad as some think, but needs better field sense & a quicker step. Too bad because we need an imposing CB.

Peter Meraw: Clumsy and prone to killer fouls in the box, if he can dial it back he brings size to the middle back

Number 22: Tony Tchani
Number 20: Adrian Cann

Full Top 40 so far