We’re not quite halfway through Toronto FC’s 2017 season yet - the end of the Canadian Championship will mark that - but with 17 games played in all competitions and an international break giving us a chance to reflect on the campaign so far, it seems like a good opportunity to hand out the first report cards of the year.
Below is what I’ve personally made of each Reds player so far this season.
Alex Bono: Bono has already achieved what you’d expect would have been his main personal goal for the year by becoming the team’s first-choice goalkeeper. That, of course, is an ongoing competition and Clint Irwin will continue to breathe down his neck, but after another shaky start upon claiming the jersey he has settled nicely and produced some big moments - most notably against Cyle Larin and Orlando City. The most exciting thing about the 23-year-old is that there is no reason we should think he is now the finished product. B+
Clint Irwin: The older of Toronto’s two goalkeepers - though I think some forget he is only 28 himself - has really done nothing wrong besides get injured. Irwin is comfortably a starting-calibre goalkeeper in MLS and unless Bono takes a step backwards, this will probably be the last season in which TFC are able to enjoy the luxury of having both players at their disposal. B
Eriq Zavaleta: Zavaleta has continued to eat minutes and play a safe, sound game in and around his own penalty area, which is all Toronto really need from him. Given that all of their other centre-backs have been sidelined with an injury at some point this year, his week in, week out reliability is an asset. B
Justin Morrow: Morrow has solidified his status as the best attacking full-back/wing-back in MLS while also doing a solid job of filling in at centre-back when needed. How many players in this league can do two jobs as different as those to such a high standard? A
Nick Hagglund: Hagglund has more natural athleticism than Zavaleta and is also more comfortable bringing the ball out of defence, and his confidence was growing by the week until he suffered his knee injury. Hopefully that does not break his momentum too much, because he is beginning to look like someone who could be a core player for the club for years to come. A-
Steven Beitashour: If you disregard age and salary, is there a right-back in MLS that Toronto would trade Beitashour for? The likes of Graham Zusi and Harrison Afful may be more impactful individuals, but Beitashour is another player who just shows up every week and provides the platform from which the more attacking players can shine. A-
Chris Mavinga: I’m still on the fence with Mavinga. He’s very assured on the ball and an excellent one-on-one defender, but there are still just too many moments when his concentration seems to drift. As of now, it’s hard to say that his signing has done more than meet minimum expectations by adding competition and depth - I don’t think he starts when everyone’s healthy. C+
Drew Moor: The leader of Toronto’s defensive unit has come back into the team after his heart scare and simply picked up where he left off. As a sweeper, Moor is involved in less active defending and it’s more difficult to decide on a grade for him as a result, but I don’t doubt his continued influence and so will put him in line with Beitashour and Hagglund. A-
Jason Hernandez: Hernandez has only played two MLS games and one ended at half-time due to food poisoning, but he has looked a solid depth pickup thus far. B
Michael Bradley: On course for comfortably his best season in a Toronto shirt as far as I’m concerned. A dominant presence at the base of midfield and probably the one Reds player you can argue should be a lock for the All-Star Game starting XI. A
Victor Vazquez: While I think Toronto would miss Bradley more if they lost him for an extended period, I toyed with giving Vazquez an A+. He has been a brilliant addition, quickly establishing himself as a top-five midfield playmaker in MLS and suiting up for 14 games, equal with Bradley and Zavaleta for the most on the team. I’m going to be greedy and say he can have a perfect score if he increases his goal output slightly. A
Jonathan Osorio: It’s been a tough year for Osorio, whose profligate performance against Sporting Kansas City was turned into a much bigger talking point than it needed to be and threw him off course. He has since had an illness and a lot of positional inconsistency to deal with, and is only now starting to look comfortable again. I think he’s looked at his best playing with Vazquez, but it’s hard to argue that the team’s overall balance is not better when Marky Delgado partners the Spaniard. C
Raheem Edwards: Only Vazquez has had a bigger say in the step forward Toronto have taken this year compared to last than Edwards, which is some praise for a rookie (I know, I know). Among players to have seen meaningful minutes, he’s been the team’s third-best chance creator after Vazquez and Jozy Altidore and while he saw less of his favoured position on the left flank towards the end of May, the Canadian Championship final should give him an opportunity to get back into a groove on a big stage. A
Armando Cooper: Remember the Atlanta United game, when Cooper was the best player on the pitch? That was a rare bright spot in what has been a pretty miserable season for the midfielder. I don’t think he’s a lost cause at all, but his shaky start last season and struggles this term suggest he needs a run of games to get into a rhythm. The problem is that right now he is not playing well enough to earn one. D
Marky Delgado: I put Delgado in the same category as Hagglund - a young player (one of the youngest in the squad, actually, despite the body of work in MLS he has to his name already) who has not only continued to progress this season but exceeded expectations. He has proven to be the ideal box-to-box middle man between Bradley and Vazquez. A-
Benoit Cheyrou: Cheyrou is a fantastic asset to have as a spot starter, and has generally played superbly when he has come into the team or emerged from the bench. This past week might have demonstrated that he is at his best with limited minutes rather than as an everyday player, but as long as Bradley stays healthy that’s not a problem. A-
Jay Chapman: It’s been a little disappointing not to have seen more of Chapman, but he will at least get opportunities off the bench during the Gold Cup. He was excellent against Seattle in an advanced position, but needs to do more when is given a chance as a more orthodox midfielder in order to earn consistent minutes. B
Jozy Altidore: It feels as if Jozy’s excellent start has slowed down a touch, but that’s probably not his fault; he’s had tough assignments in Columbus and New York without Sebastian Giovinco, and changed the game off the bench at home to Minnesota United despite not scoring himself. For the most part, we have enjoyed Altidore at his very best and the early MVP talk was not without merit. A
Tosaint Ricketts: Ricketts endured a slow start to the campaign but has rediscovered his touch as a late-game menace since, and demonstrated that he is more than just a super-sub against Columbus (though I do think they played into his hands). He’s proven that last year was not just a hot streak and, like Cheyrou, is providing cover for two key players as good as Toronto could reasonably hope for. A-
Sebastian Giovinco: It’s been a strange season for Seba; I’m not especially worried about him, but neither can you really say that he’s building a case to be in the MVP conversation thus far. It’s difficult to mark down a player with six goals in 10 games despite injuries even if he’s not quite hit top form, though, and the fact is that his season will mostly be judged on what he does between September and December. B+
Jordan Hamilton: Hamilton has done just fine when called upon. His problem is that he is a better replacement for Giovinco than Altidore and the same can be said of Ricketts, meaning he needs two players out of the way in order to get a start. B+
I didn’t rate Ben Spencer or Tsubasa Endoh, who have only played one MLS game each.
A lot of high marks there, but that reflects the excellent season it has been so far. Feel free to agree, disagree and leave your own grades in the comments.