More talented players came and went but he outlasted them all on Toronto FC's Right Wing, Number 11 in the Toronto FC Top 40 countdown is Nick Soolsma.
Average Ranking: 12.909
Highest Ranking: 7
Lowest Ranking: 28
Duncan: 9. Nick Soolsma is one of the most surprising success stories of TFC's season. In pre-season, before and after officially signing with the club in March along with Elbekay Bouchiba and Javier Martina, he was quickly outshone by the much flashier Martina. He was actually in the starting lineup to start the season at Vancouver, but after a disappointing first half he was substituted at half time, and then not seen again for quite a while. Meanwhile Martina was dazzling crowds with his fancy tricks and those goals against Portland.
It was over a month later before he resurfaced, coming on as a sub towards the end of the Voyageurs Cup game against Edmonton when it was already 3-0, which I referred to as a Darko Milicic-esque Human Victory Cigar move. His prospects looked even bleaker though, as despite Martina's star beginning to fade, Joao Plata played most of that game at Right Wing and impressed, so Soolsma looked nowhere closer to getting in to the first team.
Eventually though, both Martina and Alen Stevanovic proved themselves pretty useless, and Plata proved himself a very good Left Winger, and all of a sudden there was a job available on the Right Wing and Soolsma took it. He was rarely incredible, but did a good basic job and offered some reliability, and thus somehow he became a regular. Even in the second half of the season, after a few games out of the lineup while Peri Marosevic and Ryan Johnson got their chance to impress at Right Wing, Soolsma just waited for his moment and eventually played his way back into a regular spot.
Unlike most wingers, Soolsma doesn't really have 'fast' in his repertoire, but he did have a great change of pace from slow to medium that, combined with one or two decent moves, enabled him to create space for himself and get some decent crosses in. He finished tied for the team lead in league assists, with 5, as well as adding 3 goals, the twice taken and twice scored penalty against Vancouver, then goals against Columbus and New England.
His season was a triumph of reliability and simplicity over skill and flash, of fitting into the team as a whole, rather than being a talented individual. As Stevanovic skulked back to Italy, and Martina faded to the bench and then to the waived list, Soolsma stuck around, did a basic job well and earned himself another season.
I'd like to hope we'll at least try to improve on him over the off season, that we'll have some seemingly impressive and more dynamic new guy out there to start the season. But don't be surprised if Soolsma hangs around and once again, much like his beloved nine-lived cat Suarez, somehow works his way back into the starting lineup. It wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
Dave: 14. The Dutchman is like a very poor man's version of Dirk Kuyt. He really has no special skills, he lacks pace, his crosses were often suspect, and his finishing could have been better but at the end of the day he put in the hard work that was required for him to be an impact player for the club. He proved to be fairly reliable and capable of chipping in goals (3 in MLS) and assists (5 in MLS). I would say that Soolsma will never be a star for any team but his work rate along with the talent he does have means that he is certainly serviceable.
Keaton: 12. I was not a big Soolsma fan early on, but he's grown on me. I'd like us to keep him around, because he's played pretty good with Koef, Plata and Johnson.
Blindfolded Tank Driver: works hard, fails a lot, occasionally surprised and succeeded. Depth.
Ignirtoq: Seeing Soolsma play on the right side tells me that we need someone to play on the right side. Resigning to the notion that he may be the only player who can kinda play there, he rarely beats a defender, watching him move looks like he's running through pudding and for a man with his frame, he should be able to bully his way through players more often. I just don't get it.
Devon Taylor: Slow as molasses, but a few nice touches and slick runs. Not sure if he can maintain his place in Winter's lineup, but he's certainly doing everything he can to try.
Jimmy Stone: Moments of magic, fades in and out of matches.
The Yorkies: Just loves cats.
Macs_Daddy: I didn't know anyone could be that slow, but still sometimes useful
JC_Plante: Much maligned, but has a definite skill set that can be valuable, the partnership with Danny K and Plata makes him more useful
Red Wine Roz: Loved the cat name, just not enough to let Duncan name our cat after it.
James: I like him, not sure why, same move, but it always works, slow but it happens for him, hope he's back.
Kristin: He did it for Suarez! Not my fave to start the season, but showed a lot in the final quarter.
Peter Meraw: A useful player off the bench, played well in spurts