Coming in at number 13 this season is Toronto FC's all-time appearance leader, Ashtone Morgan. With 114 appearances and counting across all competitions, Ashtone Morgan will look to extend his lead atop the club's record book and hopefully break the 100 MLS appearances plateau in 2016. This past season saw Morgan become the primary substitute option at left-back and at times the backup left-winger as well.
Average Rating: 13.1
Highest Rating: 11
Lowest Rating: 16
A string of consecutive matches early in the season paved the way for Morgan to total 19 MLS appearances and 17 starts while contributing 2 primary assists. At 24 years old, Morgan is still a relatively young talent for Toronto and will continue to develop and remain an important member of Toronto's roster.
Despite holding down the starting left-back spot for three consecutive seasons, the addition of Justin Morrow in January 2014 saw Morgan rooted to the bench that year. He was only able to manage 2 starts and 3 appearances in the league that season, and therefore was unable to continue to develop and ultimately fell out of favor. As a result, his two starts were not that impressive and it seemed he had lost the confidence and momentum he had earned in previous seasons.
This season however, was a comeback season for Morgan. He was finally given a chance in the second match of the year at Columbus after a minor injury to Justin Morrow allowed him to be subbed on. Morgan took his chance incredibly well in his first couple games, which eventually resulted in Morrow being pushed to right-back once he returned and kept Morgan at left-back. Once that occurred, Toronto looked impressive and had a string of 7 matches in which they went 5-1-1 and only allowed 5 goals. Morgan continued to improve and this stretch featured Toronto's best defensive record and their most points.
A slight injury to Morgan saw Morrow move back to the left-side of defense and Toronto struggled to secure a reliable right-back. Toronto's defensive shape never seemed to be the same afterwards and as a result, the goals against began seeping through their defense. From July onwards, Morgan would start matches occasionally, and continued to play fairly well for Toronto. In spite of this, Greg Vanney rarely went back to utilizing both Morrow and Morgan as the starting fullbacks and consequently the club became the worst defensive team in the league.
Morgan will never be regarded as the most skilled player on the team and his weak right foot is a liability as it eliminates the possibility of playing right back or even playing centrally. What makes Morgan a suitable substitute is his intelligence and speed. He is rarely caught in possession or making a mistake and whenever he is in trouble, he is not shy to boot the ball out of bounds.
Furthermore, if and when Morgan gets beat, he is quick enough to track back and prevent an odd man attack. Other than Giovinco, Morgan might also be the best crosser of the ball and is always dangerous in whipping in crosses from the left side, for example his assist against Seattle. Being one of the quicker players and one of the best crossers on the roster, Morgan has attributes that can assist Toronto next season.
While this past season could have been better off having Morgan and Morrow as the fullbacks, the addition of Steven Beitashour at right-back means Morgan will start the year as a substitute. If Morgan can continue his good form and improve in the offseason, it is expected that he will have several appearances off the bench and could crack the first team, should an injury occur.
His speed and crossing abilities are attributes lacking in Toronto's anticipated starting XI and as a result, he can provide a different dimension off the bench whether at left-back or left-wing. Being a hometown player and possessing a fairly inexpensive wage, Morgan will continue to remain a valuable player on the roster and should continue to be for years to come.