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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.