clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Toronto FC Top 31 Countdown: Number 2 - Terry Dunfield

The team voted him as their player of the year thanks to his consistent effort in the middle of the park but in our countdown the little Canadian that could has to settle for second spot. At number 2, it's Terry Dunfield

How do you like me now Whitecaps!  (runs off screaming)
How do you like me now Whitecaps! (runs off screaming)

Average Ranking: 3.71
Highest Ranking: 1
Lowest Ranking: 10

Dave: 1 Terry Dunfield has never been a spectacular player, he doesn't spray long range passes all over the field, he does not make goal saving tackles, and he does not often give you a reason to get up out of your seat and cheer. What he does do though is give you one of the grittiest efforts you will ever see and brings an extremely high work rate to the side any time that he is on the field.

In 2012, Dunfield made the most of the talents that he does have and ended up turning in one of the best seasons by any TFC player. He ended up making 30 league appearances, 4 in the Voyageurs Cup, and 8 CONCACAF Champions League games. If you are keeping track that adds up to a grand total of 42 appearances (plus one friendly run out against Liverpool) in a season where TFC contested 46 games. In the end, Dunfield only failed to feature four times this season, all in MLS games, and played a role in everyone of the team's cup matches.

While he was playing all of those matches Dunfield managed to net 3 MLS goals (tied for the 4th highest total on the team) and added 3 goals in the CCL all against Aguila. It was an impressive season from the holding midfielder no matter how you look at it and he may just have finally found a place where he can finally get his career back on track and start to live up to just a shred of the potential that saw him sign with Manchester City as a teenager.

It was a long road for Dunfield to get here but the thing that always kept him going as a player was his attitude and approach to the game. The things that some people love about Dunfield are also the same things that other people can't stand about him and that is that he plays a very simple game that is based on working hard far more than on having the most skill.

It is that bulldog mentality, working class hero imagine, and down to earth personality that have won me over to becoming a Dunfield fan. His dedication and effort to this team never wavered in 2012 despite often being asked to anchor a midfield that featured a trio of MLS rookies, out of position players, or other team's rejects. He did an admirable job all season long but what impressed me the most was his performances when he was the only veteran presence left in the middle. With Torsten Frings out injured and needing surgery and Julian De Guzman heading to FC Dallas it was all on Dunfield and he rose to the occasion with a number of very solid performances having to do his own job along with cover for a basically useless Aaron Maund.

When stumbling along through his stats for the 2012 season and looking at a whole lot of chalkboards there was not a whole lot about Dunfield that stood out to me. His passing totals were fairly average, he did not make an exceptional number of tackles, and he even committed far fewer fouls than I would have expected based on my memory of the season. He was just solid in everything that he did and his only real knock in that regard was his lack of successful long passes.

If you put Dunfield in the middle of the park with Frings chances are that it will show you the massive gap that exists between the two players technical sides. Frings would be the one spraying long passes all over the field and kick starting the majority of the attacks while Dunfield would be doing more of the dirty work by winning the ball back and making shorter passes to try and hold onto it.

That is what made him such a perfect fit under Paul Mariner. He played midfield like you would expect an English stereotype to play and that was just what the head coach was looking for. It did not take long for Dunfield to become preferred to JDG and it was probably his play that made De Guzman expendable. He logged over 3000 total minutes this year almost entirely off of his work rate which endeared him to both Mariner and Winter.

Dunfield was not only about grit and determination this season though as he had a couple of highlights of his own in 2012. Netting 6 goals was an impressive total and actually put him right up among the leaders on the team. He did get three of those goals against a minnow in Aguila but that should not detract from his attacking contribution this season considering his total was higher than some of the club's actual attackers.

For me his moment of the year Is a bit of a coin toss between two of his MLS goals. The first is his 95th minute match winner against the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 11th. That goal, which handed TFC a 3-2 win, was certainly his sweetest effort as it stole the three points for Toronto after it seemed they would slip away when Darren Mattocks had scored a controversial equalizer in the 91st minute. Dunfield got the winner when he headed home a Frings corner finding the top of the net well out of the reach of Joe Cannon and just over the head of YP Lee. The best part of the goal may have been the celebration that followed as Dunfield ran around like a child who had just won the imaginary World Cup on any local play ground.

The other goal in consideration was certainly not as massive in terms of sealing a big result but was the second best goal that I have ever seen Dunfield score (1st being for Canada and Ecuador). That goal would be his 85th minute header that earned Toronto a 1-1 draw against Houston Dynamo on August 25th and was one of the games that Dynamo fans ended up looking back on as costing them a chance to host the MLS Cup final. This time he got his head onto a long ball into the box by Darren O'Dea and applied a top class flick that was just too much for Tally Hall to deal with despite his best efforts to get a hand on it. The goal was certainly made possible by some questionable Dynamo defending but it was still a every enjoyable one and sparked Dunfield off on another long distance run of a goal celebration.

In the end, I was happy to put Dunfield at the top of my list because he was such a fixture in the lineup all season and was one of the few players who managed to look like they still took pride in putting on that TFC shirt each and every time he did. He will also be more about his value than about being a difference maker but that does not mean we should not appreciate Dunfield for what he is, a very solid player.

Duncan: 3 Ah Terry Dunfield. The new Dan Gargan, a polarising figure though one whose appeal, or lack of, can be easily understood and acknowledged from whichever end of the spectrum you fall.

Is he Terry Duncefield, never makes a pass forward, not smart enough and the type of player we need to be looking past if we're ever going to improve, even if yes he certainly does try hard, he's got passion you can't ignore that.

Or is he Terry Fucking Dunfield! All heart and passion, tireless midfield workhorse, with a knack for the crucial goal, displaying the never say die attitude that TFC desperately needs, even if yes, he's not the most skillful out there, you can't ignore that.

He's both of them of course, it's just a question of which side of that continuum you fall on, (for the record, I'm close to the middle, though at the TFD! side of it), often in the same game, and it seems coaches are just as confused. He never really seemed to fit in with what Aron Winter's patient possession based ideals, yet it was Winter who brought him over from Vancouver. Under Mariner, well his game made a lot more sense and he seemed a crucial piece, though having Aaron Maund put next to you will make anyone look good in comparison. He obviously falls into the ‘Mariner likes him and will thus give over the top praise' camp, labelled as 'the ultimate box to box midfielder', yet, thankfully for my impression of Mariner's judgement, he wasn't singled out as one of the 7 players deemed good enough to be starters in this league.

He isn't starter material really, though TFC have many other areas to address before they get to Dunfield. In an ideal world, he'd be solid reliable depth, a good option to bring off the bench or rotate into the starting lineup on occasion when things are seeming flat. His price tag, thankfully negotiated before coming to Toronto and reputedly benefitting from a large chunk from back when Vancouver was a USL club that didn't have to fit itself into a salary cap, is perfectly reasonable and in line with that. The fact that he was given TFC's MVP award is a sad indicator that 2012 TFC was far from an ideal world. He's the obvious candidate for the patented MLSE ‘make a big deal out of honest trier' push, see Jerome Williams, Darcy Tucker and more, hopefully that won't come with a pay raise that gives him more than his worth to the team.

Michael: 7 Can't question his work rate

John: 3 Team MVP, hands down.

Kristin: 10 Nice guy, lots of heart etc, etc, but should not be (and would not be for other teams) in the starting XI

The Yorkies: Feel like we're falling into MLSE's "Promote a Wendel" campaign (4) but choices were slim.

The Ghost Of TFC Future: I can't believe he's as high as he is (6), but… well, Terry was ALWAYS there. Anyone who gets regular playing time under Winter AND Mariner must be doing something right…

Seriously, Dunfield's obviously not the most talented guy, buy he played his ass off. I'll always remember his last second goal to stick it to the Whitecaps! That alone would get him into the top ten.

Jon Spratt: One of the more polarizing players in TFC history. His consistency can be counted on.

Casual Soccer Fan: The team's heart and passion.

DichioTFC: Terry Dunfield will never be more talented than Dwayne De Rosario. He won't have dozens of national team caps like Julian De Guzman (61 and counting for what it's worth). But in 2012, with his limited talents, Dunfield proved that he has one of the biggest hearts of any player that's ever worn the crest. Leaving it all on the pitch, hustling forward and, often, hustling in defense, Dunfield was a captain to be proud of after Frings and Frei went down with injuries.

Dunfield wouldn't have a starting role with any other club in MLS, and starting off the season many were arguing that he shouldn't have been starting over the more talented Silva and Avila, but his work rate, dedication and pure emotion were some intangibles that the young players on this team should learn from the wiley veteran. The same effort that made Dan Gargan a local hero not so long ago is what's inside Terry. And it's only fitting that he scored the massive header at the death against his former club in July. Maybe that's why he's perfect for this hard-working town filled with underdogs and overachievers. A city where work ethic is a hallmark of our success, Terry exemplified a hardworking leader. For many of us, we are the hardworking leaders for our family at home, often in face of adversity, obstacles and other challenges. None of us are spectacularly gifted, but we still find ways to become successful and lead our humble town to become the financial hub of Canada. We're not unlike Terry Dunfield, you and I. And with a season of more downs than ups, almost true to life for those of us with more economic downs than ups recently, Terry Dunfield, showed what it means to be a Torontonian... (What's that? He's from Vancouver originally... ?) showed what it means to be a Canadian (Huh? He started his international career with a cap for the England U-18...?) showed what it means to be a below average MLS player with lots of opportunities for minutes. Below average with opportunities to succeed, just like you and I.

Shem: The problem TFC had this season is that Dunfield was their number 3 player. Defensively ok, attacking-wise non-existent.

Prizby: A career high in goals; the best of which was against Vancouver in the dying seconds of the game when he headed home the game winning goal after Darron Mattocks had scored ‘that header’ and preceded to taunt the TFC fans with the shhhhhh celebration. Finally, he played with his heart on the badge, something every fan should appreciate of Mr. Dunfield.

Sir Alphonso Applegate: Terry had a great year, and he always gives his all. It's scary that he's such a big part of this team, but that's not his fault.

Shel Soze: Low on talent. Effort and energy every week.

JC_Plante: He has 3 times the goals as DeGuzman, playing defensive mid. Can't knock the hustle of TFD. Finished 3rd in scoring!

Panos Kelamis: TFC's MVP is just a squad player on any other MLS team, but played with more passion and heart than anyone else on the team.

Number 1: Danny Koevermans

Number 3: Richard Eckersley

Full Top 31 Countdown