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Toronto FC Top 31 Countdown: Number 17 - Adrian Cann

He was limited by a series of injuries but still proved that when he is fit he can make life rough for opposition attackers. The highest ranked of the six players released so far, at number 17 it's Adrian Cann.

Tom Szczerbowski

Average ranking: 18.0
Highest Ranking: 12
Lowest ranking: 23

Dave: 19 Adrian Cann was one of the first players who I had the privilege to meet and talk with. That encounter before a Canadian men's national team game left me with a pair of lasting impressions about the experienced defender. The first was that he was genuinely a good guy who could talk the ear off of anyone that was willing to chat. The second was that he genuinely loved playing soccer and that being out injured for a long period of time was one of the toughest things he had ever faced in his career.

That was Cann away from the field. A guy who loved soccer and wanted to play it for as long as he could and wanted to bring success to Toronto as his hometown club. That is why I can safely say that the last year and a half must have been very tough for Cann as he spent so much time on the sidelines trying to recover from a major knee operation and was stuck watching the team lose game after game while the defense struggled to slow down the opposition on a regular basis.

He made his return in 2012 but as he admitted in his end of season interview it was almost the end of the season before he actually started to feel fully fit again. He would only make 10 league appearances in 2012 because of the various injuries but also because he was not one of Mariner's prefered players. He often found himself being left out of the starting lineup in favour of Richard Eckersley being played out of position. It was a drastic change from 2010 and 2011 when Cann was pretty much a fixture on Toronto's back line.

In 2010 he was a key part of what was probably Toronto's most stable defensive group to date. He made 26 starts that season in the league and along with Nana Attakora was showing signs that he might just be a part of the solution to TFC's defensive woes. He was deserving named the team's MVP for his efforts that season.

Things almost went wrong in 2011 though when Cann missed a portion of preseason as contract talks between him and club had taken a turn for the worse. Things were sorted out before the start of the season and Cann returned to being a fixture in the teams starting lineup. He would make 12 league starts before his knee injury ended his season.

Now, Cann has been released from the club which really came as no surprise to most who had paid attention. At 32 years old Cann still feels that he has some good years in him and he did not work so hard to return from his injury just to wind up sitting on the bench. He was also fairly expensive for a depth player so letting him move on seemed to be in the best interest of both sides. In that same end of season interview Cann was fairly candid in saying that he was not sure if he would be back season or if he even wanted to be back as it was clear that he knew where he stood with Mariner.

It is a shame that Cann was not able to return to the level he was before his injury for Toronto as that would have been a real bonus. He may yet get back to that level but Mariner did not seem to have any real interest in giving him a chance to show that. When he did get a start in the final match of the season against Columbus Crew he showed that he could still be that physical presence that he once was. He spent most of the match knocking Jairo Arrieta to the ground and ensuring that he was basically a non-factor in the match. That was a vintage Cann performance despite the loss.

This season Cann managed to log just 735 minutes of playing time in MLS. While he was on the field TFC conceded 16 times which worked out to a rate of a goal every 46 minutes or just under 2 goals per game. Compare that to the number over the full season (62 goals in 34 games) of 1.8 goals against per game and you can see that things were not any more stable with Cann patrolling the back this season.

The majority of his playing time did come under Winter when nothing at all seemed to be going right so it is hard to single out any one or two players to blame for the high rate at which the team was allowing goals. Cann would play 285 league minutes under Mariner (6 goals allowed, 1.9 goals/90 minutes) and 450 minutes under Winter (10 goals allowed, 2 goals/90 minutes). His numbers remained fairly similar under both coaches but it was clear that Winter was much more willing to play him despite just coming back from a major injury that Mariner was.

It was great to see Cann make a return to fitness in 2012 but sadly he will not be around in 2013 to show if he still has what it takes to be the kind of defender that he was in 2010.

Duncan: 16 Great to see him come back from injury, and the defence looked a lot better with him and Doneil Henry in the middle in May, though the MLS numbers above don't really show that. He played a big part in the V Cup success this year where in 4 games, the only goal conceded was one of the best 10 in the world this year. The main game I remember is the second leg against Vancouver. How many times has Eric Hassli stuck it to Toronto? Not in this game. Early on, while theoretically challenging for a header, Cann absolutely and quite deliberately flattened Hassli from behind. After that Hassli did nothing.

Paul Mariner didn't seem to like him that much, and after recovering form an injury, he couldn't get back in the team, no matter how bad the defence got. Initially explained as he was too slow/similar to Darren O'Dea, but even when O'Dea got injured, Cann didn't get back into the team until Mariner was absolutely out of choices. I'd like to see him back, but his salary's a bit much, especially if he's not going to be a starter.

John: 19 He still actually plays in Toronto?

Michael: 23 Like Williams, could have been used better. Injuries didn't help

Kristin: 17 He's still really, really good-looking. Don't know that he can be the partner for O'Dea but I'd like to see him get a shot before they sign a new CB. He was OK, was rarely upset with his play.

The Ghost of TFC Future: Mariner's jealous of his abs. Adrian wouldn't teach Paul the proper technique for crunches. It all comes back to that. Cann finally made some end-of-season appearances and looked okay, but I fear too much time has passed for him to slot himself back into the line-up. I thought he struggled under Winter's ball-playing defender system, so I was surprised when he was frozen out of Mariner's side, considering that defenders are asked to do much less with the ball.

The Yorkies: Since the day he left camp in a contract kerfuffle his luck as been in a spiral. Really, really not good looking future.

DichioTFC: I'll never forget Adrian's interview when he finally signed for Toronto. He was legitimately thrilled to have signed the contract and was inspired to lead the club. Knee injuries have gotten the best of Cann, but he has always fought back for the club and for the fans. Slightly overpriced at a $126K cap hit, he's one player that I would welcome back despite having an overvalued contract. His leadership, love for the club and other intangibles should make him a rotation player for 2013. Also, at his age, he can provide leadership and guidance to young Doneil Henry.

Prizby: Returning from an ACL injury and lack of match fitness pretty much wiped Cann’s season out. It didn’t help that there seemed to be some sort of animosity between him and Mariner (evident during the end of season presser). Supposedly he was still “injured” most of the season, although others have said he was healthy. Whatever the case, when he did get out on the field, he seemed to be one of the more capable defenders TFC had this season, not that, that is saying much.

Sir Alphonso Applegate: Unfavoured by Mariner but he is better at CB than most have given him credit for. Played fine at the end of the season when Mariner reluctantly played him.

JC Plante: Showed glimpses of what could be. His crossing is a top skill.

Panos Kelamis: Did well to come back from injury, but looked out of his depth and is near the end of his career.

Number 16: Nick Soolsma

Number 18: Jeremy Hall

Full Top 31 Countdown