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Toronto FC Top 31 Countdown: Number 18 - Jeremy Hall

A multi-purpose depth player, useful but too expensive. He got kicked in the face and had a trip to the humane society, At number 18, it's Jeremy Hall

C'mon Terry! kicking poor Jeremy in the ass isn't going to help.
C'mon Terry! kicking poor Jeremy in the ass isn't going to help.
Kyle Rivas

Average Ranking: 18.88
Highest Ranking: 11
Lowest Ranking: 23

James: Raw statistics often don't do a player's season justice.

Jeremy Hall scored one goal in twenty-four appearances, nineteen of those as a starter. He featured primarily as a right-back, though he did serve spot duty in other positions when called upon.

Numbers aside, Hall was involved in two of my favourite moments of 2012; moments that were few and far between this calendar year.

Beginning the season sidelined as he recovered from off-season sports hernia surgery, Hall came into the side towards the end of the nine-game losing streak that began Toronto FC's season.

He scored his only goal - and first in MLS - at the start of Paul Mariner's second match in charge of the club, turning on a ball put back into the box after a half-cleared corner kick and smacking it off both posts before it trickled over the line to open what was arguably the club's best half of football this season.

That thirteenth minute strike prompted me to tweet this:

It was one of the few genuine moments of enthusiasm the team evoked this year.

A 1-3 lead on the road come half-time, following the Club Escobar exploits and all, gave the slightest indication that there was a turnaround in the club... of course, Houston would increase the pressure over the second half and eventually tie the match at the death.

Seven days later, Hall played a less-crucial, though in some ways, more exemplary role in the 0-3 win in Montreal.

I was one of the few fans who made the trek for the midweek fixture in Montreal, the 3rd such fixture this season, and much to our delight it was well worth the effort.

Hall didn't factor on the score-sheet that day, but he did take a beating.

The vicious bicycle kick attempt from Hassoun Camara caught Hall flush in the face; it was just plain nasty.

The impact was made worse when a driven cross mere minutes later caught Hall again in the beak. It was almost comical, Hall and the club chuckling at his misfortune, it lightened the mood of a season that was crumbling and may have prompted, in some small way, the three-goal effort over Canadian rivals.

Toronto fans took a beating this season; it was nice to know that we did not suffer alone. That transposition of situation was endearing in an odd way; he bled for us this season.

Further hamstring issues forced him back out of the team and when he returned the club had begun the fourteen-match winless streak that would see out the campaign.

Hall was also involved in what can be seen as the death knell of 2012.

He came on for the second half of a match in Chicago and was part of a heroic effort to see out a result after Ryan Johnson had stolen a goal in the first half. Chicago drew one back and in the dying minutes, down a man, Hall was injured in a crunching challenge from Patrick Nyarko.

Strangely, the referee game the free kick the way of the Fire, and down to nine men having used all their substitutes, Toronto conceded the game-winner from that free kick, Austin Berry rising to meet the Pavel Pardo delivery.

It became clear then that Toronto just couldn't catch a break.

The season was not all goals and nosebleeds. Hall proved himself a serviceable stand-in, but was often guilty of falling asleep at the crucial moments of defending.

The opening goal from New York's visit in June is a perfect example. Unaware of the danger, Hall allows Jan Gunnar Solli to get goal-side of him for a simple tap in.

This happened a little too often for comfort, but can perhaps be explained away by looking at the shifting nature of the Toronto back-line and by a season marred by injury.

Richard Eckersley, as a centre-back, was a touch erratic; one was never sure if he would cover this man or that, whether he would jump into a tackle or track a run. Playing alongside him may have thrown Hall off a little. And in a season that began on the injured reserve it can be difficult to find the minutes and the rhythm necessary to catch up to the flow of the league.

It was a mental mistake, a momentary switching off; those sorts of mistakes can be addressed.

I fear Hall falls into that category of promising talent that has found the transition to the professional game difficult due to inconsistent playing time and the changing nature of the league.

MLS is littered with young-ish players that have moved from one club to another in search of playing time.

Two years in New York, the club that drafted him in 2009, saw him figure regularly in his rookie year - for a terrible team, but see a drop in time in year two under Hans Backe who was in the process of rejuvenating the side.

A further season split between expansion Portland and Dallas - where he got semi-regular time - before joining Toronto at the end of 2011 in a trade with Dallas for a second round pick in the 2012 draft.

Hall was a member of the 2009 Generation Adidas class; a strong group that included Stefan Frei, Omar Gonzalez, Steve Zakuani. Kevin Alston, and Danny Cruz.

While the GA distinction can be spotty in terms of producing professionals, it is worth remembering that Chance Myers, now an integral part of Sporting KC's dynamic unit, was the first-overall pick in 2008 and a member of that season's GA class, but only began to flourish after a 2011 US Open Cup game - a 5-0 rout of New England - where he scored his first two professional goals, and hasn't looked back.

Hall is only twenty-four and though that is old in the European game, the ranks of North American soccer are filled with players who have only flowered later in their development.

MLS has gotten better - more skillful, more professional, the rosters have gotten deeper, in recent years - and as such the jump from college can be a little more difficult to maneuver.

Am I ready to give up on him as a utility player, one that can come in handy from time to time and possibly find his feet in the future?

No, but the club seldom contacts me to ask my opinion of such matters.

The fact that he survived the initial cull of six players does not entirely spare him; he may still have some trade value within the league.

It is worthwhile to go back and read what Dave wrote when TFC acquired Hall last November, in particular, the words from Daniel Robertson in Dallas. It all rings rather true.

But a little bit of stability can serve both the club and the player well.

The latest salary figures - take them with a grain of salt - have him receiving a guaranteed salary compensation of nearly $150 000 - a little too expensive - but if his contract is up and he was willing to stick around at a reduced cost, I'd be happy to have him stay.

Richard Eckersley is likely to return to his natural position and having someone with a pleasant disposition with a year in the city already, as his under-study, who can also fill in other positions if necessary, cannot be a bad thing.

Duncan: 13 Ah Jeremy Hall. At $149,000 he's the rich man's Dan Gargan. Can cover a few positions, he played at left back and in midfield, but spent most of his time this year at right back, where he was generally unimpressive, if not completely disastrous. In an ideal situation, he'd be on the bench to cover a few spots in case of emergency, and that's all we'd need from him. But then do you want to be spending that much money on someone like that? I don't. He hasn't been cut yet, but hopefully his contract is off the books next year, if he'd come back for 60-80k, I'd happily have him back.

Four obvious 'highlights of his year'. 1) The boot to the face, then ball to the face against Montreal, he wobbled but didn't go down. 2) He scored a goal, which I'd completely forgotten about, against Houston. Both of which are featured above. 3) His comically bad miss against DC, and also, 4) Puppies and kittens!

Dave: 13 Hall had some good moments this season but for the most part he was inconsistent defensively and frequently injured. For me he still left a fair bit to be desired considering his salary is by no means a bargain.

Michael: 22 Saw a few games of something then saw a lot more games of something else

John: 15 Actually not that bad, really.

Kristin: 25 The low rating is in part to his being played out of position - he actually can look OK in the midfield - but as a defender? Woeful - say goodbye Jeremy

The Ghost of TFC Future: Looks decent at times, but then loses concentration and gets beaten. I recall a game in Dallas in the summer where he was victimized repeatedly and it took him ages to change his approach. Good as a squad player, especially since he's comfortable in midfield as well, but really can't be starting alongside his current defence partners.

The Yorkies: Got a lot of minutes due to lack of options. This (13) is mule-points… not talent ones.

Casual Soccer Fan: Too expensive, too many mistakes.

DichioTFC: I'll be honest, I loathed Jeremy Hall this year. Constantly out of position, frequently giving up the ball in horrible areas, often leaving his man unmarked or getting nutmegged by far superior players. My biggest problem is that Jeremy Hall DOES have a place in this league. He's been an effective player throughout his career at New York and Portland. He's never been fantastic, but a quality player who could be relied upon to come off the bench or during an injury crisis. He never played to his full potential, a victim of an emotionally draining season. If motivated, he can be a class player. But he'll have to preform better, especially considering his $100K salary cap hit.

Shem: Playing the ball he's better than Ecks, but defensively he should improve.

Prizby: Hall is a funny one, because there isn’t anything to dislike about him as a person. He was another defender who struggled with injuries at the beginning of the season, but when he came back, he showed that he had skill and ability. This was capped off with his goal in June and it seemed after that point, his abilities on the field dropped off significantly where he became a liability on the defensive side of the pitch at right back; so much so that many opposing teams would focus their attacks on the left as he was easily beat too many times and on crosses into the box.

Sir Alphonso Applegate: Decent going forward, but horrendous at actually defending. The number of times my PVR proved this guy has no clue how to defend was staggering.

Shel Soze: Filled in where required and went unnoticed for the most part which was good for TFC

JC Plante: Should not be allowed near the pitch.

Panos Kelamis: Neither a midfielder or defender and probably not a soccer player, he provides squad depth

Number 17: Adrian Cann

Number 19: Joao Plata

Full Top 31 Countdown