We're down to the business end of the Toronto FC Top 40 Countdown, as we get into the top ten. It's apt that this player is number 10, as he's the Attacking Midfielder TFC needed all year, Eric Avila.
Average Ranking: 11.818
Highest Ranking: 7
Lowest ranking: 19
Duncan: 11. When we traded for Eric Avila, after getting over the initial shock of getting anything in return for Maicon bloody Santos, I realised I didn't really know much about Avila. He fuzzily registered in my brain as a player I'd heard of, which I'm sad to say is not the case for a lot of MLS players, but there wasn't much I could have told you. The view from Dallas seemed positive though, suggesting a talented kid who hadn't quite been able to put his game together consistently, but who had all sorts of potential and who pretty much everyone wished well and wanted to see succeed.
At Toronto we definitely got to see that potential, and though he missed all the important CCL games due to being registered with Dallas for CCL purposes, he played in 9 league games and looked to be the player we'd been missing all year at Attacking Midfield. Quick, skillful, with good passing and dribbling ability, and unlike others we'd tried in that spot this year, he semed to have a good sense of when to dribble and when to pass, when to try something ambitious and when to play the simple ball.
He got his only goal of the campaign against San Jose, picking up a loose ball on the edge of the box after Peri Marosevic tried to dribble through 3 players and slotting the ball past the goalie and into the far corner. He had a very good game next up in Columbus, coming very close to what would have been a fantastic goal, hitting the bar from about 25 yards out. He played pretty much every MLS game after he arrived, and looked really comfortable in Winter's system. Whether as the main Attacking Midfielder in the point forward formation, or in just a two man midfield he looked the part, and combined well with the other forward players, and his is one of the few positions I wouldn't be worried about finding a replacement for.
I'll end with two observations from the 90th minute party. First of all, Avila is tiny. As well as being small, I was shocked at just how thin he was. Secondly, when all the other players had done the minimum and then snuck out the back door, he was one of the three players who stayed at the bar and had a drink or two with the fans that had stayed around, and all three looked like they were ready for a good night out.. I wasn't surprised that Andy Iro and Terry Dunfield were there, but Avila was a bit of a shock and he definitely went up a bit in my estimation.
Dave: 17. He came in from Dallas and seemed to be at home in Aron Winter's tactics. He was the creative kind of attacking midfielder that the club were looking for and slotted in perfectly. He was not able to play for the team in the CCL but in the league he was a difference maker and part of a very solid spine that the team had in the second half of the season. Avila has the ability to score goals but his real talent is in creating chances for other players and was often able to provide Koevermans with good service.
Keaton: 11. Avila was one of my favourite pick ups from all of Winter's trades. He's a tad gawky and uncomfortable to be around. But this lad can play football. He is exactly the kind of player Winter wants in this system, and he's only 23. I have extremely high hopes about Avila and what he can become.
Blindfolded Tank Driver: Another excellent pickup off the FC Dallas reserves. Young and versatile
Ignirtoq: Isn't it nice to see someone else's reject thriving here for once instead of the usual other-way-around scenario?
Devon Taylor: Attacking midfield presence that helps replace DeRo's departure. Too bad he was cup tied for CCL games.
Jimmy Stone: Offers much needed creativity will be a big player in 2012.
The Yorkies: Great young pick-up with an upside
JC_Plante: Unfortunately was unavailable for champs league. He is high energy. Dan Gargan with skill.
James: Wonderful addition in the attacking midfielder role, wirey but tough, MLS savvy, good eye for a pass, worth the trade.
Kristin: Could be top 10 next season - huge upside going forward. Field sense & pace.
Peter Meraw: A nice surprise, he and Marosevic are the kind of lower cost younger surprise gems that we will need to find to be competitive in the bizarro MLS salary cap system