Yesterday, news emerged that Jeremy Hall's option had not been picked up by Toronto FC and therefore he would test MLS's form of free agency: the Re-Entry Draft. Because of the man he was, and the role he played in the community, this was a loss that few will celebrate. His placement in this countdown, however, indicates how far he fell this year within the ranks of the club.
Don't take this rank the wrong way, because it may be the most unfair of any considering the actual quality that Hall possess. Between Hall and Andrew Wiedeman, the other player in a similar situation who Toronto FC let go on the same day, he has the better chance of making something of himself in this league. There are certainly teams who will be willing to take a chance on an athletic and generally solid defensive midfielder. He will find a new home in this league.
Hall is almost certainly leaving his current one, however, as he quickly fell down the depth chart in the centre of midfield this season. Michael Bradley, Collen Warner, Jonathan Osorio, Kyle Bekker and for a short time Bradley Orr all saw playing time in his place. On a team that is not known for its depth, being number five, arguably even number six, on the depth chart isn't a good sign. The team may also be making a bit of room for Manny Aparicio and/or Chris Manella to get a step closer towards the first team.
Of the TFC starters that saw major demotions in 2014, Hall may have seen the biggest. While Ryan Richter was the NASL with Ottawa, Andrew Wiedeman made 7 appearances off the bench and Ashtone Morgan got some time with the Canadian National Team and in the Canadian Championship, Hall saw his minutes evaporate.
His 2280 minutes, a career high set last season, his playing time dropped to just 185 this year. He did have some injury issues as well, at times when he likely would have been considering for the starting lineup. But that is still something that hardly ever happens to a six year MLS veteran, especially considering how much Nelsen seemingly trusted him in 2014. He spent just as much time on the field this year with Wilmington on a conditioning stint as he did with the big team.
When Hall did play, he never really fit the vision of Toronto FC. He wasn't attacking enough as a midfielder, and looked woefully out of place trying to play his defensive game. He was asked to do far too much with the ball, something that isn't his strength. All of the repute he had built up with TFC fans over the past couple of years went out to window quite quickly.
There is also the question of salary. In a salary cap league like MLS you cannot afford to have a player who is low on your depth chart making $105,000. In this league, that money could be easily invested in the kind of solid experienced centreback that Toronto FC have needed for some time. Heck, it can even buy two good defenders: Nick Hagglund and Mark Bloom could both be paid with this sum. This has a lot to do with why he was one of the most likely candidates to leave the club.
It appears that Jeremy Hall will not be back with Toronto FC next season. That is probably best case scenario for both the club and ultimately his future in this league.