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Toronto FC's Core Against the League's Best

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Toronto FC are not in the MLS playoff's final four, in fact that didn't even make the playoffs. What, then, sets them apart from the teams they did?

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The spine, or backbone, of any team defines how strong it is or should be.

I was looking at the four remaining teams that are in the MLS Cup play-offs and got to wondering how our Toronto FC players matched up in this department. Do we have the same qualities as the teams that made it to the playoffs?

In the following chart, I have not accounted for variables such as games played, injuries, loss of form - this is just a straight analysis of players' strengths and durability, in my opinion. The exercise is purely for recreational purposes, but if Tim Bezbatchenko can swing it, please note my wish list for the 2015 season.

Club
Goalkeeper
Defender
Defensive Mid
Attacking Mid
Striker
TFC
Bendik
Caldwell
Bradley
Osario
Gilberto
NER
Shuttleworth
Goncalves
Jones
Nguyen
Davies
NYR
Robles
Olave
McCarty
Henry
Wright-Phillips
Seattle
Frei
Marshall
Alonso
Dempsey
Martins
LA
Penedo
Gonzalez
Juninho
Donovan
Keane
My picks
Bendik
Gonzalez
Jones
Nguyen

Martins

The five goalkeepers:

Bendik (TFC); Shuttleworth (NE); Robles (NYRB); Frei (Seattle); Penedo (LA).

None of these goalkeepers are world class, with all having one or more faults, so my conclusion is that Joe Bendik (with better coaching) would hold his own.

Centre-backs:

Caldwell (TFC); Goncalves (NE); Olave (NYRB); Marshall (Seattle); Gonzalez (LA).

Omar Gonzalez at L.A. is the stud centre-back any coach in MLS would love to have.

Defensive midfielders:

Bradley (TFC); Jones (NE); Macarty (NYRB); Alonso (Seattle); Juninho(LA)

This was a toss-up between the Bradley of early season form and Jones of second half of the season.

Much as I dislike Jones' demeanour on the field (or because of it) Jones gets the nod from me.

Attacking midfielders:

Osario (TFC); NGUYEN (NE); Henry(NYRB); Dempsey (Seattle); Donovan (LA).

Osario is the future at T.F.C. if he can up his game to the next level. At this moment in time he is not thinking or moving fast enough to take over a game. Any one of the other 4 would be just about ideal but for me Nguyen is at the top of his game with many good years in front of him.

Goalscorers:

Gilberto (TFC); Davies (NE); Wright/Phillips (NYRB); Martins (Seattle); Keane (LA).

As much as I like Gilberto and think that he deserves his contract, Martins or Keane (or both) will do.

Even with this kind of spine the team's supporting cast has to be strong enough to complement it for a team to be successful. This is where effective coaching and smart scouting comes to the fore.

Anyway fill your own blanks in and hope and dream for a TFC playoff position in 2015.