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Toronto FC 2011 Top 40 Countdown: Number 15 - Ty Harden

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Hmmm, I'm guessing Harden didn't kick the Houston player in the balls, but it certainly looks like that's what's going to happen.
Hmmm, I'm guessing Harden didn't kick the Houston player in the balls, but it certainly looks like that's what's going to happen.

He was never a fan favourite, but he got a spot on the protected list, and no outfield player played more league minutes than him this year.  Ty Harden gets a well deserved number 15 in the Toronto FC Top 40 Countdown.

Average Ranking: 17.524
Highest Ranking: 8
Lowest Ranking: 27

Duncan: 12 After a fairly crappy and injury filled 2010 season, TFC fans really weren't expecting much from Harden this year, and he managed to live down to expectations early on.  In and out of the lineup, sometimes as a centre Back, occasionally at Right Back and with a revolving cast of defensive partners, it would have been tough for anyone to flourish, and Harden certainly didn't, that early stretch of games ended for him with a red card in the 3-0 defeat against D.C United.

Dicoy Williams and Richard Eckersley arrived and that meant Harden was mercifully relegated to the bench for a few games.  He made a reappearance filling in for a resting Adrian Cann in the game against Philadelphia Union.  That didn't go well, and he was responsible for at least 3 of the goals in a 6-2 defeat.  That probably would have been it for Harden, but then Cann got injured, Dicoy Williams went off to play in the Gold Cup and came back injured, and thus Harden was pretty much our first choice Centre back.  

In June and into July, he was paired with Nana Attakora, Doneil Henry and Richard Eckersley at times, and it really didn't go all that badly, they got clean sheets against Sporting Kansas City, New England Revolution and Vancouver Whitecaps, and Seattle Sounders didn't score until the very last minute, and then the Voyageurs Cup was clinched with a 2-1 win.  Supporters definitely weren't convinced though and he never really seemed that far away from disaster.  The transfer window brought in Andy Iro as a permanent partner, and that one really didn't look good at all, it wasn't until Torsten Frings was pushed back to sit behind Harden and Iro that the defence looked solid again.  

The extra player, and the organisation Frings brought to the defence helped massively, even carrying over to when he wasn't there.  Harden's two best games of the season came in the last 2 crucial CCL games.   With Frings suspended for the home game against Pumas UNAM, he played the third CB/Sweeper role very well, behind Iro and Eckersley in the first half, and Iro and Henry in the second, they just did what they needed to do to get the point.  In the away game at Dallas, TFC surprisingly went with a flat back 4, and Harden and Right back Henry did very well to keep Brek Shea quiet on the night.

He didn't have the greatest season, and really if TFC's going to have any kind of success he should be a depth player coming off the bench at best.  Having said that, only Stefan Frei played more minutes for TFC than Harden in MLS, this season  and when you add in the CCL minutes, he was probably number one overall, he was an ever present though the season defining CCL run, and his second half effort got him 3rd place in the 'most improved' section of the WTR end of season awards.  Most importantly, he did enough to get a spot on TFC's protected list, so he's obviously part of Aron Winter's plans going forward, and really, he deserves more of a share of the credit than he probably gets for any success TFC had this season.

Dave: 10 Other than De Guzman, Harden was the one player who benefited the most from the presence of Frings in the team. Harden was awful in the first half of the season often losing his man and showing that he just did not have the size, pace or strength to defend in the MLS but when he had Frings beside him that all changed. He seemed to know what he was doing then and even if some of the issues remained he was miles better.

Keaton: 27 Ty is not a starting Centre back in this league. I know he had a good rookie year in LA. But this is 2011. He may stick around as a depth defender.

James deCosta: Slow but pretty steady, he saved Iro's butt frequently

Peter Meraw: Got better near the end, but a very slow start, made for a horrible defensive record for the season

Alex: Decently solid for what he had to work with

Kristin: Recent play just can't make up for two thirds of a season of mistakes. But if only over the last 2 months? Top 15 for sure.

James: Vastly improved in recent weeks, actually impressive on occasion. Still occasionally falls asleep, but a fighter - I like that.

JC_Plante: Stepped up his game when thrown to the wolves because of the injuries, marked improvement throughout the year

The Yorkies: Responsible for too many goals. Bench at best.

Jimmy Stone: Like Iro his I expect his position to be looked at during the transfer window.

Canadian Texan: In a "football" system...he doesn't fit in

Devon Taylor: Pushed into a starting role because of injuries, has improved slowly throughout the year, but still a long way to go before he can be considered the solution to our back two

Blindfolded Tank Driver: How this guy is my #12 is a terrible sign for the rest of the list. He should only be a depth CB.

Number 16: Terry Dunfield
Number 14: Matt Stinson

Full Top 40 so far