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Toronto FC 2013 Top 36 Countdown: Number 8 - Bobby Convey

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At Number 8 in the Countdown, but Number 15 in your Programs, Mr. Bobby Convey!

The Satisfied Smile of a Man with an Assist - the first of two on the night
The Satisfied Smile of a Man with an Assist - the first of two on the night

Average Ranking: 9.38
Highest Ranking: 4
Lowest Ranking: 23

James: 14 - Waking the Red has put in a yeoman’s task with this epic season-ending walkthrough of the player contributions from the season that was.

After ghosting past those players who barely featured and continuing on through the role players, the dearly-departed, and the part-timers, the countdown has finally reached the real crux of the topic and the heart of the team.

The starters, the contributors, the favourites – whichever title seems more apt.

With the revelations of Ashtone Morgan and Richard Eckersley at the end of last week, the countdown finally entered the top ten.

So, without further ado:

He’s Number 8 in the countdown, but number 15 in your programs – Mr. Bobby Convey.

Convey joined Toronto FC on May 16, acquired in a trade from Kansas City for the meagre cost of the club’s natural 2014 Third Round SuperDraft (aka. The first Round of the Supplemental Draft) pick - a mere pittance.

It was a steal, a player of Convey’s quality and experience in exchange for a glorified trialist’s spot, was too good a deal to pass up. From the KC angle, it was likely a salary dump.

He had struggled to find a consistent role during his one-plus-year spell at Sporting, joining them for the start of the 2012 season, after having resumed his MLS career with three solid, if unspectacular, seasons in San Jose, following a injury-plagued stint in England with Reading.

Convey was, and remains, one of the more puzzling MLS players, fitting into a class alongside fellow America talents such as Eddie Gaven, Benny Feilhaber, Robby Rogers, and Mike Magee (before this season, at least) - all the talent one could hope for, but never really reaching the true peak of their potential.

Once the youngest player ever signed to the league – joining Kevin Payne’s DC United before his 17th birthday – talent was never his issue.

Extremely capable, attack-minded, and in possession of an ever-in-demand left-foot, Convey was a Bradenton IMG Academy product alongside the likes of Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley at the turn of the century.

What has been a problem is Bobby’s ability to settle in one place, to find a role and contribute regularly, but upon joining TFC, he appeared to put that all behind him, for the most part.

Debuting just two days after joining the club – May 18 – against Columbus in Toronto with the visitors already holding the 0-1 lead that would see them through to the result, Convey replaced Justin Braun after half-time to see his first game action in nearly a month.

Afterwards he commented, "I’m glad I got to play a little bit. I’m going to be a little rusty after not playing for two months. So hopefully that was a start and we can build up from here. It’s just the first game and I don’t really know everybody’s name yet. Over the next few weeks, I will get involved with the players more and really get more involved with the team."

And build he did.

After missing out on the game day squad the following weekend in a loss in New England, Convey made his first start on June 1 in a 1-1 draw at home against Philadelphia.

He would go on to start the next thirteen matches as well, missing only two of those remaining on the schedule – road trips to Portland and Chicago when Ryan Nelsen opted to travel with younger benches and rest his veterans at home – to amass twenty starts, alongside his one substitute’s appearance by October’s end.

Usually from the left side of the midfield, then, on occasion, from the right as an inverted winger – especially once the acquisition of Alvaro Rey added further flexibility to Nelsen’s eleven – Convey became an integral part of Toronto attack.

He would pick up his first point – an assist – against Montreal in that rollercoaster 3-3 draw at the start of July, setting up Jeremy Brockie’s 6th minute equalizer after Andres Romero had put the Impact ahead in the first minute:

Convey would add two more at the end of that month against Columbus – incidentally, Rey’s debut - in a dynamic attacking performance that exhibited both his contributions at one end and his detriment on the other – as discussed when analyzing Dominic Oduro’s goal against an isolated Ashtone Morgan with Convey failing to trackback and support his teammate against the threat of the speedy Ghanaian.

Toronto trailed after seventeen minutes, courtesy Oduro, but in a pleasant role-reversal, found two in the waning moments as the summer rains poured down.

Convey initiated the equalizer, collecting the ball on the right and quickly playing up to Brockie by the arc, who in turn, helped it on to Jonathan Osorio in the 87th minute:

Seven minutes on, Convey again played provider, hitting the wonderful, prodding ball for the pushing Andrew Wiedeman, whose deft touch found the back of the net in the 94th minute:

Sweet victory for a team that had grown used – and weary – of conceding in stoppage-time and Convey was named’s Man of the Match for his two helpers.

Perhaps fittingly, Convey would nab his first - and only - goal of the season against the team that drafted him back in 2000, DC United, on August 24 at decrepit RFK Stadium in the American capital – sweeping in a squared pass from Reggie Lambe with his left-boot on the hour mark to salvage a 1-1 draw:

He would pick up a fourth assist in a 1-1 draw with Chicago on September 11 – with a low ball from the left to the back-post that fell to Robert Earnshaw – drawing TFC back level after Dilly Duka had bounced a cross that eluded Joe Bendik.

Aside from that attacking impetus, excellent reading of the game to pick his spots, good field vision, and the ability to hit a decent bit of service, what Convey added to the side was some much needed MLS experience.

One can waive away claims that MLS is a unique entity – football is football, after all – but there are a multitude of factors that make it different, and having a player who knows well both the league and the people of whom it is composed, is an under-appreciated asset.

It was not all grand, Convey could be wasteful – only three of his fifteen shots were on target, his free-kicks and corners were not always spot on, he at least once waived Osorio off a nicely positioned dead-ball (no doubt pulling seniority) - and as mentioned, the defensive side of his game left a little to be desired – and huge gaps of space at the wrong end of the pitch.

Consistency too was a bit of a concern – when he was on, he was flying, but he did take the occasional stretches off. He was tenacious in attack and not afraid of a tackle – picking up three bookings, but failed to pair that same appetite with the defensive side of his game.

And he could be a little hot-headed at times – whether in frustration with his teammates or the opposition.

But all told, he was a very positive and much-needed addition to the team; one that given a proper preseason and some time to develop into a functional whole with those teammates whose names he did not know on his debut, could be a very nice piece of next season’s squad.

Convey arrived with a reputation as being a bit of a prickly individual.

Not a loner, nor unprofessional, but in some ways a man apart. Those confident in themselves and their ability often find themselves at odds with those who they deem to be in their way.

And there was some talk of an unsavoury incident that is best left to the swirling rumour of message boards.

Still only 30, with tons of experience under his belt and a few good years still ahead, it came as some surprise when Toronto announced last week – November 29, to be specific – that his option for 2014 was declined.

As pointed out in the announcement by General Manager, Tim Bezbatchenko, that does not necessarily mean that Convey will not be returning, "We will continue discussing the possibility of returning next season with those players whose options were declined."

According to the most recent figures released by the MLS players union, Convey was earning some $200 000 in base salary and a further $15 000 in guaranteed compensation.

If he is willing to renegotiate those terms, there is undoubtedly a place for him in the squad.

In an interview a few weeks before the end of the season, Convey expressed his faith in the club, "This place is amazing. The fans are great and the facilities are great. The owners put money into the team. For me, it has been a little bit shocking that the team hasn’t been as successful as it should be. But now it is a great opportunity to really leave a mark on this place and to show that we can do well.

"If we can get it right over the offseason then the fans will come back and Toronto can be just like it was at the beginning. This can be a really amazing place to play."

And that is a mission that all TFC fans can get behind.

Duncan: 9 For too long TFC have relied on the tricky winger, someone who'll get the ball, take on the full back and get a cross in or get a shot on goal. There's been occasional sporadic success, but also way too much failure, mopves breaking down when the higher risk play doesn't work out. So I was very glad when TFC brought Bobby Convey in to play on the left. More of a wide midfielder than a winger, a team player rather than an individualist, more reliant on passing and working angles and smart one-two's to beat his man. Efficient rather than get you out of your seat exciting. He ended up leading TFC in assists as well as scoring one goal, as if to prove that efficiency.

As for off the pitch, well, he doesn't do twitterwe know that much, and in one half time feature he revealed that he doesn't drink or smoke. Which musically prompts the question, what do you do? Well apparently he swears at kids, as reported here, when asked by a kid for his shirt after a game, he told the kid to 'go to the effing club shop'. Whether it's true or not, he missed the next game with a mysterious injury.

Will he be back next year?  Given he previously lived in Kevin Payne's basement, he definitely seemed like a Payne signing, but Nelsen clearly had little problem playing him so maybe he will be back. His option was declined, but he could still return at a lower wage, which I wouldn't be against at all.

Dave: 11. Was he all that I was hoping he would be when the club added him to the roster? No, but he was been a solid veteran presence who has turned in a number of good performances. His play has also been frustrating at times though as he wasted a lot of possession out on the wing with poor crossing or dribbling in to trouble.

Armen: 11. Veteran MLS talent with a proven record. More like Convey, please. A tad expensive but certainly quality.

Kristin: 9. The MLS vet that could? I'm still on the fence about Convey but in the games he played well (good service, nice link-up work on the wing etc.) I was impressed - just would have liked to have seen it all the time. Admittedly he hadn't played much and was still finding his feet when he got here from SKC - he's the kind of player you want on your team so expect to see him back next year.

a_miller16: Came to TFC mid-season and played fairly well. He had a tendency to disappear for periods of time and wasn't very effective defensively.

Angus Chung: He is a good winger, and probably our best winger after Rey, but I do not think he is $ 200 000 good. Still, it is nice to see someone who knows what to do with the ball on the wings other than run with it *coughReggiecough*.

Bruce Harding. Did alright, took a while to get match fit but was our best left winger. Hope he's here next year.

Ferantez Solid consistent player… He always contributes and has a ton of experience in the MLS… And he strikes me as a great guy off the field, which is important for the locker room.

Hoddle: Not sure he's worth the cap hit, but an improvement on Lambe/Ephraim/Bostock, etc.

JD: He had a bit of a rocky start with TFC, but in the last 10-15 games, he has started to show his quality. He is a solid MLS'er, but at that wage, I'm not sure he's worth it.

Mark_HSV: Top in assists and seems to be a decent winger with good passing. Haven't seen much mistakes. I think he's worth keeping around next season.

Michaelvee: Captain America 2.0. Both Convey and Jacob Peterson have the SKC connection. Both are, frankly, above average wide players in MLS. But Convey loves it here, believes in the team and wants to stay. He is an appalling finisher and doesn't always deliver a great ball off the set pieces, but he's quality all the same.

Prizby: Have to say the standout moment for me was that Columbus game in the monsoon where his 2 assists won us the 3 points and our first ever W over that yellow team at BMO Field (sad it took 7 years for that happen)

Red Wine Roz: Makes the best hot tub videos.

Robert Snider: Overpaid but I liked the move from day one - someone with mls experience that we needed

The Yorkies: The kind of guy MLS playoff teams have on their squad. Not at his current wage though.

TimmerJ_75: Only ranked this high (16)due to games played!

Tyler: Convey seems competent enough. I'd like it if he scored more goals though.

Yohan: Convey is first winger that can put in a good cross since, well, Laurent Robert. (Plata's crossing wasn't very good) He lacks the pace to beat a defender 1v1 anymore, but he's proven to be an adequate piece to TFC attack this season. Maybe a bit too expensive at 200k right now, but unless TFC picks up an another left winger off season better than Convey, he will be back next season.

Number 7: Alvaro Rey

Number 9: Richard Eckersley

Full Top 36 Countdown