With all of the additions Toronto FC made this offseason, Ryan Richter was one of the players who was expected to lose the bulk of his playing time in 2014. But unlike a number of his teammates who saw their playing time disappear, Richter was still able to get minutes this season. He was afforded something that a few of his frustrated teammates who were down the depth chart would have taken in a second: a loan to the Ottawa Fury of the NASL.
After playing 1118 minutes for the team last season, the contrast was immense as he didn't play a single minute this time around in MLS play. That certainly had to be difficult mentally for him, especially since Toronto was not very deep at the rightback position. Mark Bloom was fantastic in the position throughout the season, but wasn't always healthy. Bradley Orr has often played right back, but hardly found himself in that position. Richter had to be a better option than Jackson back there, didn't he?
The fact that he never did find his way onto the field is an indication that Ryan Nelsen clearly didn't have much confidence in him after having a good long look during the 2013 season. It is hard to tell what Greg Vanney's level of interest is in Richter, the team was largely healthy when Vanney took over. The team certainly does need depth in the position, but it seems far more likely at this point that Bezbatchenko will go out and acquire it instead of looking internally.
Besides, what Toronto FC need more than anything is a centerback. This is a position that Richter is comfortable playing, but he will probably be doing it elsewhere next season. There is much speculation that he impressed during his time in the nation's capital, and that would like to retain his services. Whether or not Toronto FC is willing to see him leave has yet to be revealed.
There is also the slight possibility that he gets picked up during the expansion draft. It is unlikely that too many fullbacks will be available. It's an unlikely scenario, Ashtone Morgan is the more likely of the Toronto fullbacks to leave the club, but it's not worth ruling out altogether.
During the season, Richter played 11 matches for the first year NASL squad, scoring once. He also trained with them ahead of the loan. But the fact that this was a loan deal, and not a straight sale says that at least someone in the organization is still keen on keeping Richter around.
What Richter can still bring to the table is very much in line with what earned him so many minutes back in 2013: the fact that he plays for a team who don't know how to accumulate positional depth. In all serious though, he is fairly confident on the ball and can move it well. This is largely due to the fact that he spent parts of his career as a striker. He's also a player who makes good crosses and even better throw ins that can create a real threat.
He's also only 25. Sure, in today's soccer landscape that age appears to be coming relatively old, but it means he still has plenty of room for growth going forward. This is especially true is he can answer his new calling at centreback, where it appears his style is more suited. But he will have to improve quickly if he hopes to see playing time, or even be retained, by Toronto FC.