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Toronto FC 2013 Top 36 Countdown - Number 18: Mark Bloom

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One of the exciting - feel the remembered excitement! - summer signings from Kevin Payne and a player that was touted as a future building block; all the way from Atlanta at Number 18, it's Mark Bloom.

Good job Mark - you fight off Petersen!
Good job Mark - you fight off Petersen!
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Average Ranking: 17.89
Highest Ranking: 8
Lowest Ranking: 28

Kristin: 16 The heir apparent to Ecks - when he was brought in on loan from the Silverbacks no one would have predicted that he'd take over for Ecks at RB and yet, that's exactly what's happened. A nightmare of Ryan Richter proportions defensively in his first couple of games, Bloom has managed to settle down and well, he doesn't look too bad out there. Offers some nice things going forward and well, you might be saying hello to your starting 2014 RB.

Middle of the pack! That's a pretty fair place for Mark Bloom.  Brought in on loan from the NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks near the middle of July, Bloom was one of the invisible men (along with Jonas Elmer) that seemed destined to be players in name only. Sightings of Bloom were rare and you had to remind those around you that he was actually a member of the squad.  It became a game during matches when subs would warm up in front of our seats; "that's Mark Bloom - where? - right there" and so forth.

Ostensibly brought in to be part of an ongoing youth movement for not just the defensive line, (anchored by veteran and captain Steven Caldwell), but for the team as a whole to build upon for the future, it seemed as though Bloom was going to remain an invisible man and may have been one of the players caught in the Payne vs Nelsen web as a signing that one wanted where the other had no interest.

However after multiple bench sightings and time in reserve matches, Bloom got his chance after Eckersley was injured in training before the Sept. 14th match against the Red Bulls.  While a controversial game for Jonathan Osorio, this game can also be remembered as one that perfectly illustrates the pluses and minuses of Bloom's play.

Clearly he's a fullback that likes to go forward - he's mentioned that in multiple interviews - and sends in a few nice crosses (and would continue to do so as the season progressed), but his defending clearly needs some work and he's caught out on both New York goals, but no more so than the first when Thierry Henry easily slips away from him.

However even with that glaring error on the Henry goal Bloom would start the final five games of the season while a healthy Ecks would sit on the subs bench for most of the games and watch.  The reasons are not difficult to see: Bloom did a serviceable job at RB (admittedly improving over that short space) for a mere pittance of $46,500 compared to Ecks' giant contract of $310,000 - no contest really.  Also both players are about the same age, play a similar type of game and Bloom doesn't take up an international spot - a spot that may be needed as the team looks to rebuild yet again.

Bloom has the potential to be another NASL success story like his former teammate Chris Klute - both came to MLS teams on loan from the Atlanta Silverbacks, both young, both defenders, both highly spoken of by their former coach Eric Wynalda.  One of the differences of course is that Klute went to the Rapids and helped spur them into the playoffs where Bloom was basically given a late season tryout for TFC - but as mentioned above, at the price it will difficult to see the Tims & Nelsen not decide to keep him on, as bench depth if nothing else.

We've seen his gaffes in the video above so let's end on a positive note and say welcome to (likely?) future TFC starting RB Mark Bloom.  While yes this video is of Bright Dike's first goal, credit has to go to Bloom for the heads up play when the ref calls play on to send in a really nice cross to Dike:

Duncan: 18 The summer transfer window was gonna be great, we'd be frightening, so Bloom was presumably just a quiet depth addition before the big boys arrived. At least Kevin Payne was excited. "We're happy to add Mark Bloom to our team. Eric Wynalda has spoken very highly of him to me, and our scouts also rate him as a very solid player. We expect him to be a part of the nucleus of TFC we are trying to put together to carry us forward for the next several years." Which amuses me because a) Scouts? chuckle, and b) We? Us? Aaaww poor KP.

Anyway, then he was pretty much forgotten about until Eckersley got injured in contract negotiations and then he played every minute of the last 6 games. Some shambolic defending against New york is already noted above, and he followed that up in the next game with more of the same allowing CJ Sapong to beat him remarkably easily and score. At that point I was ready to give up on him, a Ryan Richter-esque NASL for life kind of guy. But he kept playing, the next game was a gimme against DC's kids and after that his improved play kept on going, linking well with Rey and putting some decent crosses in. Most importantly his defensive awareness was noticeably better, and he was generally competent and less noticeable than Eckersley at the back, which is a good thing.

I imagine he'll be back next year and I'm fine with that, though ideally he'd be on the bench behind a better player.  We're not going to be able to improve every position though so if he does find himself starting at right back, well that wouldn't be a disaster.

Dave: 25. For the longest time it looked like we were never going to see Bloom even make the bench after he arrived on loan from Atlanta. He was barely making the game day roster and when he did he was not getting anywhere near the field but than Richard Eckersley got frozen out over contract issues and suddenly Bloom got to be a starter. He actually had some good outings and could be a solid addition to the team in a depth role if he does return for the 2014 season.

Armen: 12. You know, the four or five times Rey slipped the ball passed a fullback and found Bloom is the only bit of quality football we saw this year.

James: 16. grew into his role with more minutes, needs to step up defensively, but has shown a nose for going forward

a_miller16: Had a decent end of the season and seemed to be a serviceable replacement for ecks. Nelsen seems to really like him so he'll be here next march most likely.

Angus Chung: Not another ordinary fullback! Bloom came pretty cheap and does his job okay given his salary. Should be good for more depth for 2014 and beyond. Fairly decent attacking skills too, plus he tends to avoid the last-ditch heroics which is so typical of our other right back which in a way is a bit more preferable in my opinion

Elusivecart: Gets beat, but not too bad.  moves up well and seems to link with Rey fairly well

FerantezHe showed very nicely in the last games of the season… and I think he will improve a lot…

Ignirtoq: #bestNirvanaSongEver

JD: He's no ginga ninja, but could be a decent backup.

Jon Spratt: Seems like a decent replacement for Eckersley at right back, hard to say for certain given the limited body of work we've seen from him.

Killinghurst: His contributions in limited time prove that he's worth keeping around for 2014.

Prizby: Might be the best crosser of the ball at the right back position in TFC history...please give more of this; love his attacking prowess, but probably needs to do a little more on the defensive end, although I have noticed he has learned from his mistakes (when Henry took him easily on a cross...he cut off a similar play later in that NYRB loss in September)

Schtevetown: Looks like he will be back next year, however I'm hoping that is as cover for somebody better.

The Yorkies: Shockingly didn't look awful. Not an MLS starter. In other words... your 2014 TFC starter.

Tim: Performed much better than expected and hopefully will gel with the squad next year. A great "value" player

TimmerJ_75: Good addition for cheap cost that can hold own on the pitch.

Tyler: Get rid of Richter, Keep Bloom for the bench, and find another fullback to start.

Yohan: Confirmed to be returning next season, Bloom is a loan from NASL Atlanta who showed that he's good enough for MLS. He's like less intense Eckersley but with better crossing. He keeps his play very simple, but effective. Needs to work on positioning, but he makes good attacking runs, and combines well with Rey.

Number 17: Jeremy Brockie

Number 19: Gale Agbossoumonde

Full Top 36 Countdown