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Toronto FC Top 36 Countdown - Number 12: Darren O'Dea

He started the season as our captain and then left under bizarre circumstances that could only happen at TFC. Never quite the general we'd hoped for and weighed down by a massive salary; at Number 12 it's Darren O'Dea.

Never one to shy away from a spirited discussion.
Never one to shy away from a spirited discussion.

Average Ranking: 12.69
Highest Ranking: 4
Lowest Ranking: 21

Kristin: 12 Oh captain, our captain! One of the more bizarre moments in TFC history this season when fans found out minutes before a game the O'Dea wasn't playing, was on a plane headed back to TO and was leaving the team. O'Dea provided some good play in the middle of the defense, left it all on the pitch each game and was someone to provide some guidance to the younger players. But his huge contract was always an issue and once Caldwell was signed; well the writing was on the wall. Still, was sad to see him go. Hope the Ukraine is treating him well.

Quite the change from one year to the next - and yet not. Last season O'Dea was a wee bit higher in our countdown as we looked to the future and were charmed by his up front comments, his vocal manner on the pitch and the all out effort he put into every match. However that never seemed to translate into much for TFC in terms of true defensive solidity or progression. Early on this season and last season even with the poor results it still seemed like maybe he was making a difference - perhaps because Toronto had been starved for a strong presence in the back four and anyone that was willing to get up in every play, visibly be passionate and be seen organizing the rest of the back gained some extra points in the eyes of the fans.

What was supposed to be a veteran CB pairing of O'Dea and Danny Califf went out the window early in the season when Califf was on the outs with Nelsen, then once injuries and the arrival of Steven Caldwell happened, well it did kind of seem like it would be a matter of time before O'Dea would leave. Although I expected that it would be later on in the season (or even the end) before such a move occurred - would have been interesting to watch Caldwell and O'Dea together, even though clearly they want to continue to develop Doneil Henry and Gale Agbossoumonde in that role instead.

The experiment of O'Dea at left back (as discussed by Duncan below) went far better than anyone (certainly myself) could have predicted and of course he was at LB when the team recorded their first clean sheet of the season (away to Houston no less). It's a little sad to watch his interview after the Houston game as he talks about the team progressing and such.

And then of course just a few weeks later O'Dea would leave the team to go play with Metalurh Donetsk - although no one could have predicted the manner in which he departed. There's the infamous tweet:

For every1 asking I'm discussing terms with another team. Not what I want! Not got a choice! I'll update you when things are clearer!

Darren O'Dea (@odea_darren) July 13, 2013

...which of course didn't sit well with any of the fans, as regardless of giant contracts inherited from former regimes, no one wants to see a player (especially one as well liked as O'Dea) leave the team in such a manner. He's done alright over in the Ukraine and has even scored a goal for his new club. He's also still paying attention to MLS and still follows TFC and keeps close ties with a number of the players as he often tweets at them or just sends out support to the team in general.

At least his final game with Toronto had this lovely goal in it - and really what's not to love about this? The nice pass to Luis Silva, the little burst of speed to make the run and then just a great shot past the keeper...ah Darren, thanks for the memories:

Duncan: 12. If it wasn't for the giant contract, it'd be very interesting to see what TFC would have done with Darren O'Dea. Brought in to be the bossman at the back last season, it didn't quite work out then, and it didn't work out this year either. The late goal thing just kept on happening while he was in the middle of defence, he wasn't able to provide the calming orderly presence needed to keep things under control and see a game out, as best displayed with the awful corner given away against Houston. Fun stat; with O'Dea as Centre Back, TFC kept 3 clean sheets in all competitions, O'Dea didn't play a minute in any of those games.

When Steven Caldwell came along, pretty soon the late goals dried up to a very average rate and there was even a clean sheet or two along the way. But it would be harsh not to acknowledge O'Dea's part in that, as probably the best left back TFC had all season. I was very sceptical when it first happened, convinced this would be a 'Mariner putting Eckersley at centre back'-esque fiasco especially when on the attack, but he looked good there, especially when on the attack. he linked well with Bobby Convey, could put in a good cross, scored against Montreal, even took direct free kicks, getting quite close here against Philadelphia.

So it was a bit sad as well as shocking when he all of a sudden left the team in order to go to Ukraine, not his idea as he tweeted at the time. His contract made no sense so it had to be done, just one more Paul Mariner mess to clean up.

Dave: 12. He was better than Califf but not as good as Caldwell. Another player on the roster that wound up out of town because the amount on money that he was making was far more than his actual performances on the field warranted. O'Dea was a solid defender for TFC this season but was not able to get the job done on his own.

Armen: 17. Another player burdened by a massive contract. Captain O'Dea performed well but didn't see many wins in red.

James: 10. Another unworkable contract situation brought about by the poor planning of the past, on-field was a class above most of those he played with - glad he scored a goal before being shipped out

a_miller16: You could tell he really cared about TFC and wanted to try and stay here. O'Dea was a great captain who represented the team well. One of my personal favourites being a celtic fan. TFC's CB situation would look really good if he had managed to stay.

Bruce Harding: Former captain, I thought he was okay. Paid too much again. Shame he had to go.

Colin Freebury: Good all around player, a leader on and off the pitch.

Elusivecart: I liked him, but he couldn't prevent the last minute facepalming.

Ferantez: Even though he is a good player he never looked comfortable in the TFC backline, I think the captain shoes were a size too big on him.

Henry for PM: Influenced the team by clearing cap space, enjoyed watching him though, good in the air

JD: I really liked O'Dea. I think he and Caldwell could have continued to develop into a very impressive defensive pairing. That said, he was too expensive and so I don't disagree with him being traded - it's probably best for both parties in the long run.

Jon Spratt: I think he's a respectable central defender for this level and was sad to see him go, but it must be said, the late-game goals weren't as much of a problem after his departure.

Mark_HSV: I really liked him and I'm annoyed they let him go. I know the salary was high, but you gotta invest in young, quality players like him and Eckersley to get better for the future.

Michaelvee: The former captain was good for us, until he left for the radioactive shores of Ukraine. He switched to Left Back like it was no big deal, got his first MLS goal, and was confidently outspoken regarding the team's situation.

Prizby: Could have left us on June 29th, but stayed for one last hurrah and scored a brilliant goal that surely should have won us the game against Montreal (but it wasn't to be); I absolutely loved Darren O'Dea; his attitude was top notch and to risk cancelling a bigger contract to play one more game for us says it all about our former skipper; I do hope he makes a return one day.

Schtevetown: MLS can be brutal some times.

Shel soccer Don: He was poorly treated but we can blame Mariner for that insane contract.

TimmerJ_75: Not a captain, but good defender that couldn't deal with pressure.

Tyler: O'Dea was never a strong enough leader to be captain, but he did start growing into that left back position without any apparent grudges. He even scored that beauty goal!

Yohan: Probably best passing defender TFC ever had. O'Dea regularly made long, cross field passes. His goal against Montreal mid summer was also a doozy. Is a good MLS defender, just not at max cap money.

Number 11: Jeremy Hall

Number 13: Darel Russell

Full Top 36 countdown