Many of us have been following along with mlssoccer.com's annual countdown of the top 24 players in the league under the age of 24 at the end of the season. This year's list was headlined by a top five of Darron Mattocks, C.J. Sapong, Brek Shea, Sean Johnson, and Felipe. It is no doubt a talented bunch but there is always going to be room for debate in a list like that. It was interesting to note that Sanna Nyassi came in second in the fan vote portion but must have done awful in the expert vote as he completely missed out on the list in the end.
On the Toronto FC side of things, the only name to make the cut was Luis Silva who came in at number 21 on the final list and was 26th in the fan ratings. It was probably about fair for the rookie based on the fact that he was out of the lineup for much of the season but in his 23 MLS appearances he has bagged four goals and two assists. The rookie has certainly turned some heads with his play when he has been on his game and has shown the potential to end up having a better career than many of the players ahead of him on this list.
The biggest omission from the eligible Toronto FC players was Ashtone Morgan. The club's nasty left back is one of the best attacking wing backs in the league but got no love from the fans or the experts. It is a shame because at only 21 years of age Morgan is already showing that he has what it takes to be one of the best outside defenders in the entire league. He did get some love from the Armchair Analyst who had him in his list of five players who were wrongly omitted from the countdown. It is a shame that voters could not look past Toronto's awful defense to see that he continues to be the one bright spot.
With thirteen reds eligible for the list I decided to have my own countdown so you can all tell me just how wrong I am.#13. Quillan Roberts: The young goal keeper only makes this list because the club was forced into signing him to a professional contract to avoid having to rely on the emergency keeper pool all season after Stefan Frei went down injured. He finishes last in my countdown because he has yet to see a competitive minute for the club and I refuse to judge him on a friendly that shouldn't have happened or on reserve league action.
#12. Keith Makubuya: The forward can't seem to get anywhere near the field since starting the season opener last season against the Vancouver Whitecaps. He did get to play 10 minutes against the Portland Timbers this season but the fact that he is behind Quincy Amarikwa and Andrew Wiedeman should tell you all you need to know about his standing within the club right now.
#11. Nicholas Lindsay: He will likely never play another MLS game but the fact that he is even back on the field in academy games is impressive considering the scale of the injury he suffered. His place in the list is not about his present or his future but about the fact that after signing from the academy in late 2010 he impressed picking up 3 assists in his 4 MLS appearances. Before he got hurt it looked like Lindsay was well on his way to being a very good player but may now never get the chance to fulfill that potential.
#10. Oscar Cordon: The small attacking midfielder has also struggled to get any minutes with the first team this year. On the back of four 2011 MLS appearances in which he only logged around 150 minutes he has only managed to find a place on the bench this year. His lack of strength in the middle of the park is certainly his biggest knock but when he has managed to stay on the ball he has a good eye for a pass and shows good control. Now 19 years of age the clock is ticking for him to make an impact at TFC.
#9. Matt Stinson: Towards the end of last season Stinson was showing a whole lot of potential. He was battling Terry Dunfield and Julian De Guzman for minutes as a holding midfielder while slotting in as a solid right back option when Eckersley was out of the lineup. He made 13 league appearances in 2011 and seemed primed for a break out in 2012 but he seems to have taken a step back down the depth chart. Even with JDG gone and Torsten Frings injured he has only managed to get the one start and four total appearances this season. His spot below Maund on the depth chart is probably the most worrying thing but at 20 years of age there is still hope.
#8. Aaron Maund: I do not rate Maund highly at all but he seems to have become a pet project for Paul Mariner. He was a CB in college and was drafted by Aron Winter to play that position but now it seems that despite his lack of athleticism he is being turned into a holding midfielder. It has been an experiment that has not gone all that well so far but he gets some slack for being completely new to the position. He has 11 appearances now in the league and most of them under Mariner so we might as well get used to seeing him in middle of the park.
#7. Andrew Wiedeman: The former Generation Adidas talent was what Toronto got in return for JDG in the biggest salary dump of the year. Wiedeman has proven to have more value than just being the piece Toronto had to take in return and has been a regular in the lineup with Danny Koevermans out for the year and Eric Hassli missing plenty of time with injuries. He has not been lethal by any means but he does have a goal and has started to look decent out on the wing.
#6. Joao Plata: MLS left the winger on their list so I had to find a spot for him on mine. If he was still at the club he would certainly be higher up this list based on the talent that he showed in 2011 but whatever happened earlier this year that saw him sent out on loan back to Ecuador leaves his future with the club very much in doubt. His talent speaks for itself and so did the numbers he put up in 2011 as a teenager. If things had stayed on track he could well have been one of the best wingers in the league when he was on his game. The off nights and lack of tracking back could be quite frustrating to watch but they were worth it for when he decided to take over a game (see CCL in Dallas).
#5. Doneil Henry: He is the home grown product that TFC fans are counting on to help solve the perennial issue with the back four. He has been good when given the chance to be part of a stable defensive partnership and seemed to be moving up the depth chart this season under Mariner before being hurt. Ideally he will be the third choice CB next season behind a solid pair of experienced players from whom he can learn. His skills in the air are his biggest weapon on both sides of the field and can go a long way to help with TFC's set piece woes. Improvement in his marking and movement are needed to make the jump to the next level but he is not far off.
#4. Reggie Lambe: When he was signed all we knew was that he could run really fast, and early in the season he did not show much beyond that. He has sort of turned out to be your typical wide player who can drift in and out of games and go long stretches without making a real impact on the match before popping up and doing something eye catching. His only two league goals came against the Columbus Crew but one of them was a deserving goal of the week effort. His crossing could certainly be improved as he learns to make better use of his pace within the attacking setup.
#3. Richard Eckersley: Love him or hate him it doesn't really matter because you will probably change your mind several times over the course of a single match. He is never shy to bomb down the wing, whip in a cross, or get stuck into a strong challenge which are all positives but the negative is that he often leaves the other defenders exposed, his crossing is often poor, and he picks up cards just on reputation alone (oh, and the bad tackling). His move to CB this season has forced him to spend more time defending and less time attacking but it has not really been a smooth transition as his lack of size and strength leaves him under-matched against a lot of attackers. He has not really lived up to his price tag in his second season but deservedly continues to be a fixture in the defence.
#2. Luis Silva: Has shown flashes of the skill that had him so highly rated going into this years draft but is still looking to find a way to make an impact on every game he plays. Silva has gotten in on the scoring a few times this year and has often shown great finishing ability, but has also been inconsistent. His goals are a nice bonus though as he will likely make a name for himself as an advanced play maker where he can set the plate for the forwards ahead of him. If Koevermans comes back fit or Hassli gets a good run of games it will benefit Silva more than anyone else as it take pressure of him to score and gives him someone else to set up. He certainly has the skill set to be a top playmaker in this league within the next few years.
#1. Asthone Morgan: He has been the best of the bunch when it comes to the academy products and is already proving to be one of the best left backs in the league. His regular call-ups to the Canadian national team go to show that at just 21 years of age he is already turning heads and showing that he has what it takes to play at a high level. His tackling and marking do leave something to be desired but he makes up for it with what he brings going forward. He broke onto the scene in the back half of 2011 when he made the left back position his own and he has not looked back at all in 2012. That spot will likely be his for as long as he is in Toronto as he shows no signs of a sophomore slump or taking a step back any time soon. If he continues to develop there is no reason that he can't be close to the top of the MLS list for the next couple seasons.