Most of you have to be tired of hearing about Jermain Defoe at this point. It has been months of nonstop news about the English striker, culminating in his move to Sunderland earlier this month. Of course, that only meant more news about a player who is sure to loom over this season regardless of what Toronto FC is able to accomplish on the field. That may seem surprising because there isn't much left to say on the player. So.... here is another article on him.
With his tenure as a member of the club now over, there is no doubt that optically Defoe did far more bad than good during his time in Toronto. With his actions he publicly did damage to the organization's hope to be a respected side in international football, and to the league's similar ambitions.
However, by the same token he was one of the first globally recognizable names to make the jump to Toronto FC. As far as the history of Major League Soccer goes, it is probably David Beckham, then Thierry Henry followed by Defoe. Maybe Alessandro Nesta gets in there somewhere too, it really is difficult to quantify.
He also helped both the club and the league learn how to deal with designated players from abroad. They have made it no secret that the Defoe situation will help them to better handle Sebastian Giovinco, and already has in terms of the negotiation process. How this plays out remains to be seen, but how the club is talking about Giovinco in comparison to Defoe already shows a step in the right direction.
As always, on the field there is no question what Defoe brought to this team as they came the closest they ever have to an ever elusive playoff berth. When Defoe scored, as he did 11 times in Major League Soccer play, 6-2-0. They never lost when Defoe found the net. Although, realistically, it is a flawed statistic, simply breaking down the numbers states the following: had Defoe played just four more MLS games, Toronto would have won two of them, enough to make the playoffs.
Then again, from a pure numbers standpoint Defoe was always outstanding. He was the only player in the league's top 34 scorers who had player in less than 24 games, finishing 19th overall. Only four players in the league had more game winning goals. Only 12 players had more goals per 90 minutes than Defoe. Of course four of them were ex-TFC: Robert Earnshaw, Maximiliano Urruti, Chad Barrett and Luis Silva.
None of this mattered for a team who had only one metric that they would be defined by in 2014: whether or not they made the MLS playoffs. It has been largely forgotten, at the start of the season many were calling the playoffs a minimum expectation. The word championship was never far from anyone's lips when they were talking about this team.
It does, however, show how important Defoe was to this team and how he ended up being the seventh player in Waking The Red's list of top Toronto FC players of 2014. There is a valid argument to be made that if he off the field crap had not transpired he would have been a lot higher. Probably not number one, but top three would be a fair assessment.
Now that's the last we will talk about Defoe for some time. Perhaps until Sunderland takes on Toronto FC in a midseason friendly because can somebody please say that was part of the deal that got done a couple of weeks ago?