Toronto FC's backline has started its rebuild, not with the centre of defence as expected but with their goaltending. Today the club released both Joe Bendik and Chris Konopka after they combined to allow a league-worst 58 goals in 34 games.
Also released were homegrown player and Canadian international Manny Aparicio and midfielder/defender Jackson. All four players will be eligible for the MLS re-entry draft, the first stage of which will be held on December 11 at 3 p.m.
Bendik and Konopka were often postured as the victim of a poor Toronto FC backline, and it is no secret that many of the goals against this season were not the fault of the man between the sticks. However, both goaltenders still contributed to the defensive disaster, and are not paying the price.
For Bendik, it is likely his price tag that led Toronto FC to decline his option. During his time with the team he showed himself to be a capable Major League Soccer starter. According to the MLS Player's Union, however, Bendik makes $157,375 in guaranteed compensation while only playing 13 matches this past year.
This is a lot to spend on a goaltending in Major League Soccer, especially one who lost his job to Chris Konopka at the midpoint of the season. Konopka was only making $66,000 while putting up similar statistics. As the Toronto starter this year, he had a record of 11-7-3 with 62 saves and 4 clean sheets in 21 matches.
The most surprising option that Toronto FC declined, perhaps, was Aparicio considering the fact that he is only 20 years of age and took a step forward in his career this past season. However, it is no secret that Aparicio had fallen behind his academy-produced peers in the depth chart and wasn't going to be playing a significant role with TFC any time soon. Aparicio never played a MLS match for the club in his three years as a first team player.
Jackson was the final player who's option was declined by the club. The Brazilian proved himself to be a useful player for the club has he could play multiple positions, but didn't do so well enough to be considered a consistent starter in any of them. He was also making a sizeable $192,500 in guaranteed compensation. He had a goal and an assist in 26 matches this season.
Another player who is out of contract is Robbie Findley, who there is still a possibility of the club re-signing. Findley was a favourite of Greg Vanney and was a useful attacking player for Toronto FC this season, but was also clearly overpaid at $225,000 in guaranteed compensation. He had 2 goals and 3 assists in 21 matches for the club this year. If Findley were to re-sign with the club it would likely be at a sizeable decrease in pay.
Other clubs will be releasing their list of players whose options they have declined today as well, which should give an idea of some of the players Toronto FC could acquire this offseason.