The Top 40 Countdown continues, and today we have the first of the academy grads who did actually get some serious playing time this year. He's set to just keep moving up the ranks in the years to come, but for now he comes in at number 19, it's Doneil Henry.
Average Ranking: 20.136
Highest Ranking: 13
Lowest Ranking: 32
Duncan: 22 He's been surpassed a bit in the most glamorous academy grad stakes by Ashtone Morgan and Matt Stinson, what with their Canada call-ups and everything, but TFC's first ever academy call up, Doneil Henry proved he's got a very bright future with the club this year.
He wasn't seen at all for the longest time, as Aron Winter preferred to go with his more experienced options in defence. Not a bad decision when Cann and Williams were looking good as Centre Backs, and it's probably for the best that Henry didn't get thrown in too often in that first half of the season. When Cann was injured and Williams went off to the Gold Cup though, eventually Henry had to be thrown in. He played a few games in June, putting in a really good performance against New England while occasionally looking out of his depth, and eventually being replaced by Richard Eckersley.
After the big squad reshuffle of July, he got moved back down the depth chart to what should be his position right now, on the bench and playing for the reserves, and making a few appearances as sub or covering for injuries. That was just as often at Right back as at his usual Centre Back position, and the fact there was no noticeable dropoff in his play is a very encouraging thing.
His main contributions as the season wore on, were where it really mattered, in the CCL. He did have a poor game in Mexico City, but then so did pretty much everyone, and in the return match, he played the entire second half and did very well as TFC clung on to an important point. He did even better in the game at Dallas.
At Right Back, as part of a surprising back 4 as the comfort of Torsten Frings as the extra man at the back was abandoned. Dallas' Left Winger? None other than Brek Shea. Henry combined with the right sided Centre back Ty Harden to keep Shea very quiet, playing a big part in TFC's biggest win and quite possibly best performance ever.
One of the good things is that he does seem to be taking the job of role model to the academy kids seriously. At the year end press conference he mentioned how certain players had acted as a mentor to him, and now he had the chance to do the same with those still in the academy, providing an example of what can happen if they work hard, all that heart warming stuff. For now, that may well be the way he can have the biggest impact, but he's also managed to show enough on the pitch to suggest he'll be an important part of the team, and much higher in the ratings in future years.
Dave: 30 The academy grad got a few chances this season and for the most part he managed to impress which is saying a lot considering he was often playing in a very poor defense. The biggest feather in his cap has to be the way that he was able to shut down arguably the most talented player in the MLS, Brek Shea, in the game at FC Dallas. Without that performance from Henry the efforts of Plata might have very well been all for nought.
Keaton: 26 Doneil had some severely shakey moments this year at the back. But I can see a diamond in the rough with TFC's first academy grad. He's still filling out, and he's still learning the ins and outs of the league. Adrian Cann will be a great mentor for Henry, and I will place Henry in the same boat as all the other TFC academy grads. Great potential.
James DeCosta: Too aggressive in CB position, prone to brain farts but is still young.
Peter Meraw: Raw but another optimistic product of the academy with athleticism.
Kristin: Again - academy success. Bright, bright future.
James: Very limited minutes, was hoping for more growth, but defenders need minutes more than practice. Still lots of promise, high hopes for the future.
JC_Plante: Should provide a solid option off the bench at Right/center back next year
The Yorkies: Promising but very, very raw
Blindfolded Tank Driver: A young guy learning to be a CB against men. Improving.