Editors Note: Please welcome Michael Veenstra (@michaeldvee) to the Waking The Red team. Michael is a longtime follower of the game and TFC devotee. He studied English and finds writing about TFC sometimes easier than watching them. He loves the community surrounding the Reds and still believes in next season like an innocent little child. He comes to us with the passion of Jimmy Brennan (speculation indicates potentially the Goatee as well) and the experience of Oscar Cordon.
Training camp has well and truly begun, and should there be an MLS opener on March 7 -- that is, should CBA negotiations go well in the coming days and weeks -- TFC will have to put a lineup on the field for its 9th season. We take a look a Toronto's goaltenders, and where they will fit in on the opening day roster and beyond.
Bendik is the no. 1 for TFC for the foreseeable future. Since taking over the number one spot he has held it (excluding the short tenure of Julio Cesar) and done admirably behind what can only be called a below-average defence. His distribution and command of his box sometimes leaves fans shaking their heads, but at 25, Bendik has yet to hit Goalkeeper prime years. Also, This:
Roberts, a TFC Academy Grad, is probably in line for the starting spot at TFC II. He impressed in his time at Wilmington, posting 5 clean sheets and acquitting himself well despite his age. At this point, minutes are what matter for Roberts, and he should get plenty with TFC II. Even if he shows in camp that he's ahead of Alex Bono, it stands to reason that with the CSA's requirements for Canadian content at the USL Pro level and Bono's Generation Adidas Status, the logistics make it more viable to have him in TFC II colours. Which would be the same as TFC colours, but in Vaughan.
His recent USMNT call-up should give TFC fans something to be excited about. Bono is likely going to be in the mix to start between the sticks in the U23 qualifying cycle. The New York native should be a comfortable backup to Bendik over the course of the season and not much more. His selection was a pick for the future, and one that may backfire -- there's no shortage of MLS-ready options already in the pyramid, and players like Bono, Andre Blake of Philadelphia or Jeff Attinella of RSL may find playing time scarce, even with the USL Pro partnership. Someone must sit on the bench while the the Bendiks, M'Bohlis, and Rimandos of MLS eat up minutes with consistent performances. Which brings us to Chris.
It seems like Chris Konopka is perfectly suited to the number two spot behind Joe Bendik. He turns 30 this year, meaning he's likely done most of his developing already. He's played in a total of 2 MLS matches in his whole career. By my count, he's made 23 first team appearances at 6 different clubs. Once a part of MLS's "Goalkeeper Pool", a sort of emergency loan mechanism that has been utilized by several teams over the years, Konopka doesn't have what it takes to start in MLS. He's certainly got the physical tools, and he won a league/cup double in Ireland before returning to MLS, but Konopka may be most valuable to TFC as a way to ensure both Roberts and Bono start with TFC II, with real competition and real chances for playing time.