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Toronto FC 2011 Top 40 Countdown: Number 14 - Matt Stinson

That tackle surely can't be legal.
That tackle surely can't be legal.

How many TFC players can say they've scored a winning goal against Red Star Belgrade?  Unlike Gabe Gala, this player should end up with more than just the one claim to fame, at number 14, it's Matt Stinson.

Average Ranking: 17.364
Highest Ranking: 9
Lowest Ranking: 30

Duncan: 20. If Ashtone Morgan was the main breakout star from the academy this season, Matt Stinson ended up running him a pretty close second, after a less than straightforward journey to the first team. Previously captain of the academy team, he left briefly to go to Winthrop University where he played all 18 games in 2010 and won their MVP award, the first freshman to do so since 1991. He came back to TFC to try out in pre season, and scored the winning goal against Red Star Belgrade, which will always be right up there with Gabe Gala's 'scored against Real Madrid' as things that very few other TFC players, if any, will ever be able to say.

His efforts throughout the pre-season saw him be one of the 4 academy grads to be given a first team contract but he was the last to actually make his debut, having to wait until June 25th against real Salt Lake, coming on as a sub. In the second half of the season though, he played a lot, playing in 13 MLS games and 6 out of the 8 CCL games. He went from substitute appearances, and starts in more experimental sides against real Esteli to becoming a trusted squad member, playing both in midfield and at Right Back, where he particularly excelled as a wing back in the 3-4-3/5-2-3 formation whenever Richard Eckersley was injured, suspended or shuffled over to Centre Back. He showcased that versatility in what was one of his best games against Pumas in the CCL, playing the first half at Right Back in the 5-2-3, then moving into midfield for the second half.

His year ended with a call up to the Canada squad, with Stephen Hart noting that it was his work at Right Back that caught his eye. It was obviously a 'cap tie a future prospect and, give the hometown kid a runout' kind of choice rather than a straight up 'best man for the job right now' call up, but still well deserved, and it's a real shame he had to withdraw from the squad due to injury.

Hopefully he'll get further chances for Canada down the line, but at the very least he's got a bright future ahead of him with TFC, providing a great example of the academy's importance towards the club's future.


Dave: 16 An academy product who proved that he was capable of playing a role for this team. He seemed fairly comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder but he impressed more when he was asked to play in the backline due to injuries and suspension. Stinson is not afraid to make a strong challenge, has decent vision, and has good awareness for a player his age. All that lays the ground work for him to be a potentially solid MLS player.

Keaton: 17 Matt Stinson is one of many promising young GTA boys from TFC academy. What isn't to love about these guys? They want to play for Canada, and they would bleed to start any game for the Reds. Stinson is going to also be a major contributor to TFC's midfield in the next couple years. I could see him developing into a fantastic MLS middy.

James deCosta: A real surprise, can play out of position, smart, tough. I'm gutted he didn't make the Canada team do to injury.

Peter Meraw: Finally TFC acedemy produces a legitimate player. Will be great to see as he matures.

Kristin: Scrappy, too scrappy. Needs to mature.

James: Really came on, impressive if unspectacular, great addition, sign of what to expect from academy, professional, hard-working, committed.

JC_Plante: Stinson is versatile and reminds me of the role Zabaleta plays for Man City.

The Yorkies: A young bulldog. Looks like Tommy from "Snatch"

Blindfolded Tank Driver: Another young kid, loads of talent that he needs to develop. Reserve squad kind of guy.

Number 15: Ty Harden
Number 13: Peri Marosevic

Full Top 40 so far