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An ode to Mark/o/y

On the missing middle flipper in this year’s TFC squad.

(Sean Pollock/Waking The Red)

“no no no

don’t it always seem to go

that you don’t know what you got

‘til it’s gone”

  • Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

This is a mea culpa.

An admission that I thought I’d have to make one day soon, but just wasn’t sure exactly when. Well, after 3 straight losses for Toronto FC, including two to last place FC Cincinnati, that time has come sooner than I expected.

So here goes:

I never truly appreciated Mark Delgado, and what he did for this club.

Oh sure, I celebrated and begrudgingly lauded him during the winning seasons, but I also thought it was the net effect of the rising tide lifting all boats in the harbour, and perhaps didn’t hold him in as high regard as I do now that his absence is noted every week.

Mark Delgado brought a hardhat and lunch pail to work. His soccer cleats were safety boots. Delgado was not a sexy player, he wasn’t someone who put the beautiful in the beautiful game, but he definitely had his contributions to make.

There were times I was down on him when he didn’t turn out to be an exact replica of Jonathan Osorio, and provide us with the offensive punch that his Canadian compatriot was so often able to contribute. Maybe I grew tired of his occasional Mavingaisms, where he would loudly wonder whether his time at BMO Field had come to an end, despite still being under contract. Maybe it was because he just never had that one break out moment to endear himself in our minds forever.

And maybe there was a part of me that never forgave him for that one sitter on the 18-yard box that went sailing into the stands, instead of the back of the net, and which would have put Toronto FC into the FIFA Club World Cup and into the history books.

Whatever the reasons were, I don’t think I truly appreciated what Delgado brought to the pitch every week, and maybe that’s how it was supposed to be.

Mark Delgado occupied a role on this team, where going by quietly and doing his job of disrupting the other teams offensive flow, of marking the opponents most dangerous forwards, of winning the ball back high up the pitch and getting it onto the foot of a Victor Vazquez or a Alejando Pozuelo, all led to moments of glory for his teammates, rather than cast a shine on himself. When you bake a wonderfully tasty pizza, no one comments on how amazing the yeast did.

However, in the last few months, as the center backs look more and more exposed. As Michael Bradley looks like someone who is starting to lose the fight against Father Time and the Curse of the Aging Legs, as Jonathan Osorio has been made to abandon the offensive flair to cover deeper, as supposed wonderkids are thrust into the defensive midfield position only to falter (sometimes only 10 minutes into the game), it’s becoming increasingly clear that there is a Mark Delgado sized hole in this roster, and the need to fill it is glaring.

A lot of us didn’t appreciate the extent of his contributions. He was rarely the recipient of praise when things went right, and often the focal point of our ire when things went south.

Now as things are going wrong, it’s becoming evident that when things went right, it was because of Mark Delgado, not in spite of him.

I never truly appreciated him for what he was, and now that he’s gone, I long for the idea of him to return.

This club needs it’s new Mark Delgado. The old one left in a big yellow taxi, never to return again.