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Toronto FC 2013 Top 36 Countdown: Number 19 - Gale Agbossoumonde

Reliable, if unspectacular. Decent depth, though probably not starter quality. At number 19, it's Gale Agbossoumonde.

Aw, poor sonny. Is Gale making you Saad?
Aw, poor sonny. Is Gale making you Saad?

Average Ranking: 18.10
Highest Ranking: 12
Lowest ranking: 29

Dave: 14 Gale Agbossoumonde may well be the Freddy Adu of American defenders when it comes to failing to live up to potential but there seems to be one key difference between the two of them. That difference is that Boss seems to have his head on straight and realizes now that if he does not put his head down and put in the hard work all that potential means nothing.

After travelling around the World and failing to impress just about everywhere he went it was back to North America for Boss in 2012. His return was far from impressive though as the central defender struggled to impress while on loan with the Carolina Railhawks of the NASL. He was finally playing regular minutes but still looked nothing like the player who not that long ago was the top rated Under-20 American defender and had earned his first senior cap for the United States on his 19th birthday.

Boss arrived with Toronto FC via a weighted lottery and thanks to TFC's poor 2012 season they were in the best position to land the player. TFC were one of six clubs that entered the lottery for Agbossoumonde and they had a 57.3 percent chance of winning which is exactly what they did.

Toronto would have had some inside knowledge about Boss thanks to Thomas Rongen who worked with the defender when they were both with the American U-20 team. He would have been aware of the raw physical talent that Boss possessed and probably the lack of refinement that had crept into his game over the years of moving around the globe and not playing games.

Boss came to TFC as a 21-year-old who had already been to 6 other clubs. That is exceptional for such a young player but the defender was hoping to make this stop work. I got the chance to talk with him before the season kicked off at Toronto FC's media day and he struck me as a player who was focused on doing things different this time around.

"I just came to work hard, win a position, and play," said Agbossoumonde. "Whatever my roles are, whatever the coach gives, whatever the team needs I will do it to the best of my abilities. I just want to work hard for the team and my teammates."

"I can't have a better coach than a guy like Ryan Nelsen who is at my position and playing at the highest level," remarked Agbossoumonde. "He is one of the best players at that position in the EPL. I can't have a better mentor than that, you can't ask for better than that. Hopefully I can learn a lot from him and just work hard every day and get better."

He was saying all the right things coming into the season and seemed to remain focused on that during the season. His spot on the depth chart seemed to be a bit of a moving target during the season. He started behind Darren O'Dea and Danny Califf for the first four games of the season but when Califf fell out of favour, the door opened for Boss.

Boss managed to go the full 90 for five straight matches striking up what was looking like a solid partnership with O'Dea in the middle of TFC's back four. During that run of five games the club gave up 7 goals and picked up 3 draws. Things seemed to be going fairly well at the time even if the club were only just scraping by.

Then he was dropped to the bench in favour of Doneil Henry and the minutes became a lot less consistent. Just one start in 7 games for Boss but he got another run of starts in July this time partnering with Steven Caldwell while Darren O'Dea was pushed to the outside of the defence.

After July another shift in the depth chart took place. It was Caldwell and Henry in the middle with Morgan on the left so even with the departure of O'Dea to Ukraine and Califf to a scouting role there was no regular role for Boss. He did get a few more appearances thanks to things like suspensions to Henry in the closing months of the season.

Boss would finish the season with 13 MLS appearances but with the constant flux in the depth chart he was never really able to lock down a starting role. As the season ended it seemed that Boss was the third choice CB on the team behind Caldwell and Henry but compared to how the rest of his career has gone to date I would imagine Boss would take that role gladly.

2013 was not the year that Boss finally lived up to the promise that saw him win his first cap as a teenager but it might just have been the start of him getting back on track towards being a respectable professional. The good news is that at 21-years-old (22 on Novermber 17th) time is still on his side. TFC fans will just be hoping that he can continue to develop alongside Henry and give the club a solid defensive core for years to come.

Duncan: 17 TFC won something! Though perhaps Gale Agbossoumonde might not see it as a win. The lottery sent him North and he had an ok season in the number 6 jersey (proper centre back number). Brought into the team alongside Darren O'Dea, he looked quite good, reliable if unspectacular. Sadly, the 5 straight games he played in April and May were right in the middle of that whole late goal phenomenon. Of the 7 goals conceded 4 were late result changers, though I'd say Agbossoumonde is probably the only one of the defenders out there in that time who couldn't really be blamed for any of them. Nelsen obviously thought a change needed to be made and so he then got supplanted by Doneil Henry though he got the odd game when Henry was suspended or with Canada.

He was a different type of defender, more reliable, perhaps not as potentially physically dominant, but without the regular mishaps that Doneil brought. That was at least until TFC visited Portland. Firstly he got a very Henry-esque booking with this tackle after some overly aggressive pressing saw him get caught out by Rodney Wallace. Then he was very much to blame for Portland's second, trying to play himself out of trouble at the back and failing miserably.

All in all a decent season, and I'd be fine with him coming back next year, probably as a backup, but potentially taking over if Doneil Henry hits another inconsistent patch as he's shown a tendency to do over the last 3 years. Not that He'd like anyone using the word potential around him, as he mentioned to Four Four Two back in June. "They're all saying 'he has so much potential', like I'm not here. They're not looking at the fact I'm here because I can play now."

Armen: 19. A great, young, talented footballer who deserves a chance next season. Middle of the pack for now but has potential.

James: 22. Looked like a player that has drifted from team to team in recent years, was never fully settled with his occasional minutes & made the odd glaring error accordingly - solid, good to have around.

Kristin: 19. The Boss! I find myself with nothing much to say, which I guess is good for a defender. Not a full-time starter yet but his huge presence, relative ease in the role and youth (he's just a kid!) should give him a decent future. Umm, yeah that's all I've got.

Bruce Harding. Did okay when needed, Henry looked a lot stronger though. Decent depth.

Elusivecart: Doneil's shadow study, should stay that way. Couple gaffes, but may grow out of that.

Ferantez: Good prospect, if he and Doneil stick around we will have two solid centrebacks for years to come.

Ignirtoq: #plentyOfPromise #needsMoreWork

Izaac: Oh I hope he stays… should grow to be a beast at the back…needs more playing time lots more playing time.

JD: Lots to learn, but seems keen. Hope he continues to get some occasional playing time to see if he develops.

Jon Spratt: I thought he looked okay earlier in the season, but probably not a starting central defender on an upper-table team in this league.

Killinghurst: He had a few solid games and provided some needed depth off the bench when Henry was unable to play and when Califf was benched.

Mark_HSV: Seemed like an ok defender for awhile, but Henry took over the position and seems like the better long-term players. Might be a good depth player for TFC's defense though.

Michaelvee: Despite a few lapses, Boss was alright for us this year. He's got promise, is more comfortable looking in the back than Henry, and just might turn out to be more than trade bait when all's said and done.

Prizby: He is the Sokratis to our Hummels and Subotic (#BVB reference); good young talent that is in obvious need of games and more lessons from Nelsen; I'd like to say he could start along Henry or Caldwell and we wouldn't miss a beat, but that might be pushing it just a tad.

Robert Snider: Good bench strength but needs more playing time somewhere, anywhere

The Yorkies: Bit of a bull in a china shop but has real physical tools if he can work on technique.

Tim: The Boss needs to find playing time but he has the talent. Needs to learn from Caldwell.

Tyler: He had his chances and never proved himself. Bench material.

Yohan: Right now 3rd, likely be 4th come 2014 in CB depth chart. I didn't think Boss made too many mistakes in the games he played, but I didn't think he showed enough to beat Henry. A domestic and at cheap salary, Boss is a good depth defender to have, and he's also young too.

Number 18: Mark Bloom

Number 20: Reggie Lambe

Full Top 36 Countdown