clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Toronto FC 2013 Top 36 Countdown: Number 6 - Doneil Henry

He may still have made his fair share of mistakes in 2013 but he also showed signs of progress for both club and country. It was not quite the breakout season fans were hoping for but under the guidance of Caldwell he seems on the verge of becoming a reliable CB. At number 6, it's Doneil Henry

The best thing to happen to Henry's young career.
The best thing to happen to Henry's young career.
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Average Ranking: 7.64
Highest Ranking: 3
Lowest Ranking: 23

Dave: 7. 2013 was not completely smooth sailing for Doneil Henry and it was not quite the breakout season that fans were hoping for. When looked at on the whole though it was a year where he did continue to develop his game, minimized some of his silly mistakes, and began to look more look a reliable CB.

His 20 appearances and 19 starts in MLS were both career highs. As were his 10 appearances and 9 starts for the Canadian National team. Add in his 3 appearances for the Canadian U-20 team at the CONCACAF Championships and 2 appearances in the Voyageurs Cup and it looks like quite a busy year for the young Canadian defender who managed to make 35 appearances across all of those competitions.

The season is not quite over yet for Henry though as he is currently training with West Ham United who he joined up with after the most recent Canadian camp and pair of friendlies. His 2013 campaign started with Canada in last January and will continue going until the middle of December. It has been a busy year but one that Henry needed to help push him forward in his development.

If all the playing time was the biggest factor in his development this year the second biggest factor would be the defenders who he got the chance to work with. When his MLS campaign got off to a very slow start it was looking like Henry was not part of Ryan Nelsen's plans for the team. He started off missing time due to an injury he picked up with the U-20 National Team but even when he was fit he was stuck behind Danny Califf, Darren O'Dea, and Gale Agbossoumonde on the depth chart. After the first nine games of the MLS season he had logged a grand total of just 1 minute.

The door eventually opened for Henry though as Califf fell out of favour, O'Dea started to be used at LB, and Boss took up a place on the bench. When it was open Henry did well to claim a place in the starting lineup and even when he had rough outings Nelsen stuck with him.

When the summer months saw both Califf and O'Dea leave town and Steven Caldwell arrive there was no TFC player who benefited more from the moves than Henry. Suddenly the starting position was his to lose and he finally had a player beside him who seemed to take the role of mentor seriously. For Henry he now had an experienced partner to learn from and an even more experienced head coach to help.

By the middle of the year Nelsen had so much faith in Henry that it seemed he could do no wrong. He picked up a pair of red cards in June but after serving his one game ban it was right back into the starting lineup. If he was fit, eligible, and not away with the National team he was starting for TFC.

Henry made some clear progress in 2013 but there were also a number of times that he reminded those watching him that he is still only 20-years-old. He made the mistakes that are typical of a young player but his raw abilities are impossible to ignore. That added polish will come with age and the good news for TFC fans is that Henry played better than your average 20-year-old CB even with the mistakes.

There are some areas where Henry will need to improve his game if he is going to have that breakout season that TFC fans have been hoping for. For starters his tackling needs to be better as he picked up 6 yellow cards and 2 reds in MLS play. His 27 fouls in 20 games was not an alarming rate by any means but being a red card liability is never a good thing.

Henry will also want to improve his work on attacking set pieces. He has shown plenty of ability to get to the ball first and win it in the air but the end product was often lacking as he struggled to get his headers on goal, and with TFC struggling to convert on set pieces they will need better from him going forward. Some of that may come down to better service into the box but it is an area where he could improve.

He did get one goal this season, more or less from a set piece after the ball had been partially cleared, hammering a shot home from to the top of the box right into the top corner, probably not something TFC should be looking at as a repeatable effort.

The other area where Henry will want to improve moving forward is his ball distribution. His passing percentage in 2013 was only just over 68% which is passable but not really where you would like it to be for a central defender. Top defenders in MLS are completing passes at a rate well above 80% which is a lot better than what Henry managed this season. For Henry to join the better defenders in the league he will need to improve his passing by about 15% which is a fairly large number but if TFC are better in 2014 that would likely provide an instant boost to his numbers as he would be able to hit more short passes.

On the whole 2013 was a good year for Henry. He showed some signs of progress but also proved that he is still far from the finished product. He now seems to be on the cusp of a breakout season which fans will be hoping happens in 2014 for the sake of both club and country.

Duncan: 7 In both 2011 and 2012, Doneil Henry eventually broke into the first team, showed some promise, and also showed some gaps in his game, areas to improve. Both Aron Winter and Paul Mariner proceeded to bench him at that point of the season, but for whatever reason, lack of options or just having more faith in him, Ryan Nelsen kept going with him.

There were definitely problems again this year, lessons to be learned, mostly with regards to temperament and just how aggressively to play. After he broke into the team, every game seemed to be an adventure, he'd win plenty of headers and clearances, but there was often glaring mistakes. Sometimes it was poor positioning or playing too tight on the forward and thus allowing him to get away, sometimes it was dumb tackles, sometime it was the first one causing the second, as with his second yellow against Philadelphia. Then there was also the outright brain farts, his totally unnecessary first yellow against Philly for example (my favourite part of that clip, the ball rolls into the net as the scuffle develops, the disinterested carney looking guy sets off the fireworks even though it was clearly called a foul and isn't counting, way to pay attention dude) and his other red card, retaliating to get a red and negate the advantage after Tony Beltran had retaliated and pushed over Luis Silva.

But he seemed to learn, the head slapping moments grew fewer as the season went on as the influence of Steven Caldwell was felt, it'd be harsh to blame him for this own goal, a delightful back heel in the Seattle game. There's still room for improvement, his passing still isn't the greatest and every now and then he can really remind you that he is still just 20 years old, like for example when playing for Canada against Czech Republic in November. He'll be back next year, of that there's no doubt. I think he could be improved upon, but I certainly wouldn't be looking at his position as a priority to upgrade, if he's in the starting lineup alongside Caldwell, that wouldn't be too bad of a thing at all.

Armen: 7. Henry's breakout year. Not a mistake to his name worth recalling, though the red cards were a pain. Good year.

James: 3. Feels like Henry has been around so long that he's a vet, but still so young and growing every game - needs to keep his head to avoid getting into trouble, but a very good season.

Kristin: 8. Best late season turnaround ever? Henry is the CB of the future but spent large chunks of the season showing us just how young and immature he was. Seemingly unable to keep a grip on his temper and good for at least one ridiculous gaffe per game, he settled down in the final third of the season and I really look forward to seeing him next season.

a_miller16: Another year of development for the young Brampton kid. Started to form an effective partnership with Caldwell and as of now will be a starting CB next year. Improving his positional play and not committing stupid fouls.

Bruce Harding. Good season for Henry, developed a lot and got better each game. Still has some silly moments though.

David kent: My favorite,slowly coming to his own,should be better in air

Elusivecart: Hot head start to the year, but matured quickly - even pushing off A-Morgan who was rushing to his defence after a foul.

Henry for PM: Growing and growing as a player, look out for next year it's going to be great

Hoddle A potential dominant CB in this league if he can continue to learn from Caldwell.

Ignirtoq: #redCardMagnet

Jon Spratt: Still prone to silly blunders but I'm far more convinced after this season than I was after last. Improved and still so young.

Mark_HSV: Seems to be developing into a decent central defender. So he's in the top 10. Wow this is sad.

Michaelvee: Let me be the first to say that if Doneil Henry is the future of the TFC or Canadian defence, I'm worried. He does "Have all the Tools" as Jason DeVos would say, but being big doesn't make you a good player.

Mweezy: Yes he was better because of Caldwell, but a lot is due to his efforts and talent.

Prizby: I had been saying for two years and now it has finally happened; Doneil Henry's biggest growth will come from getting games played under his belt; this future TFC captain (yeah i'm calling it!) will be one of the premier defenders in this league; just ask Obafemi Martins

Schtevetown: Glad he got as many minutes as he did this year. Has all the tools, but his footballing brain is still on back-order. Very much hope he makes it.

Spence Snell: Apart from the occasional lack of discipline, a great season for the young Canadian, teamed up well with Caldwell.

The Yorkies: Possibly the most improved in second half of season. Has to tame red card fetish.

Tim: He is growing under Caldwell and has me excited.

Tyler: I was very skeptical about Henry at the beginning of the season. He still make mistakes on occasion, but we haven't seen any of those game-killers in a fairly long while. He looks to be growing into a very competent central defender.

Yohan: Not a bad season for Henry, who has grown under Nelsen's tutorage and Caldwell's mentoring. He has all the potential to be a good MLS CB, but he needs to control his aggression or else the MLS refs will card him often. (2 Reds, 6 Yellows this season).

Number 5 Robert Earnshaw

Number 7: Alvaro Rey

Full Top 36 Countdown