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Toronto FC Half season review part 2. Grading the players

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My first half season review was a bit vague about the teams prospects as a whole and ended up rambling off into a general sense of disquiet about how Aron Winter’s running the club. This time I’ll look at individual players performances so far, and I’ve got a sense it’ll once again develop into more depression about the current state of our squad. Fun!

I'll use the following grading system. A: No complaints, happy to see their name on the team sheet and have got the job done. B: Consistently good perfomers. C: Consistently mediocre, or alternately good and not good enough. D: Just not good enough. I’ll go positionally and I’m only including those who’ve played some games, I’ll start with the goalie, after the jump come the outfielders.

Stefan Frei. A- Though his control of his box and cross catching ability isn’t the best and has been exposed by an unorganised defence in front of him, his shot stopping ability can’t be questioned, and he’s saved a few points for TFC once again.

Defenders:
Richard Eckersley. B+ A real positive find, he’s looked solid defensively and good going forward, hopefully we get the chance to sign him permanently.
Adrian Cann. B- Had a shaky start to the season, and injuries and fatigue meant his last couple of games before his season ending injury weren’t his best, but in between looked the solid defender who earned MVP honours last year. Hopefully can return from his ACL injury in the same form.
Dicoy Williams. C+ looked good when paired with Cann, less so with Ty Harden.
Danleigh Borman. C Good for a full back going forward, not so good defensively though.
Nana Attakora. C+ Hasn’t really been given much of a chance, but was looking like his old self before going down with an injury.
Doneil Henry C Just had a few games, and obviously still making a few rookie mistakes here and there, but has played well.
Dan Gargan. C- Gargan’s been Gargan. Always seeming on the verge of disaster but works his ass off to make sure it usually doesn’t happen. Filled in quite well at Left Back for a few games.
Ty Harden D+ Whether at Right Back or at Centre Back has looked a bit out of his depth really.

Midfielders:
Julian de Guzman. B Still hasn’t fulfilled expectations, but has been ok. When playing as the DM in the point back midfield he’s looked more comfortable and really helped out the defence, but hasn’t been as good or as consistent as TFC would need him to be if they’re going to do anything this year.
Jacob Peterson. B- Until injuries derailed his season he had become a surprisingly consistent, effective if unspectacular midfield plugger.
Mikael Yourassowsky. B- Way too divey for my liking, but has usually done quite well, very energetic, versatile and supportive of the wingers, a surprisingly valuable addition to the squad.
Tony Tchani. C+ Looked really good in his first couple of games, then seemed to grow less confident and combative, as if confused by the new system he was learning. Was improving before his injury.
Nathan Sturgis. C Didn’t have a good start to the season, but the last few games at DM as a replacement for De Guzman have seen him play well and get the job done.
Oscar Cordon. C- Clearly has potential but is still very raw and prone to errors.

Forwards:
Alan Gordon. B+ His injuries are frustrating as when fit he’s been a revelation at Centre Forward. Aside from a good goalscoring record, his movement and ability to hold the ball up and link play are far and above anyone else who’s tried playing there. Like the Big Lebowski’s rug, he ties the team together. He seems very intelligent in interviews, so it’s maybe a case of proving that football smarts are more important than raw skill to play this system. If he’d played more he’d have earned an A no question.
Joao Plata. B- Has had some great games and some not so great, but even when not at his best, he’s good at keeping possession and rarely loses the ball by trying to do too much.
Maicon Santos. C TFC’s top scorer so far, but the captain has been a big disappointment. Flits in and out of games way too much to be effective at Centre Forward. Completely failed at the Atttacking Midfielder spot. Finding a position where his 85 minutes a game of disinterest won’t hurt the team is a real challenge. Can be dangerous at moments and scores a few goals though, so can you drop him?
Nick Soolsma. C+ A terrible first game saw him drop off the radar, but in the last couple of months has been a consistent perfomer at Right Wing. Not fast enough to be a real threat on the wing though.
Javier Martina. C This year’s Rohan Ricketts. Clearly talented, but very inconsistent and often tries to do too much.

So there's not many great grades there, but in a way it feels harsh as there's very few players that are playing below their potential. I'd say De Guzman is, and Santos, maybe Tchani and before he left Alen Stevanovic definitely was, but really that squad has played about as well as we could expect, and got the results that could be expected as well, especially with all the injuries recently. Basically as a whole they're not yet good enough to compete in MLS, or to play the more complicated and cerebral style Winter and co are trying to get started.

The last game against Real Salt Lake provided a great example of what is needed to really compete, they've got 3 or 4 players in serious all star contention, Nick Rimando, Jamison Olave, Kyle Beckerman, and before his injury Javier Morales. TFC has one player maybe at that level, Stefan Frei. Then you can add in still more good players who would easily fit into any MLS first team, players such as Will Johnson, Nat Borchers, Alvaro Saborio and more. TFC? Well maybe Richard Eckersley, when he's playing like he cares Julian De Guzman, and when fit Alan Gordon and Adrian Cann might get into that category, but that's about it.

The rest of them fall into the category of squad players who shouldn't have to be playing regularly in the first team, either because they're still young and developing or because they're just not quite good enough. Every squad in a salary cap league needs these players, but there's very few teams who rely on them as much as TFC do on a regular basis. The amount of upgrades needed is a little bit frightening.