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How would a team of Toronto FC retreads fare in MLS?

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Picking the best starting lineup of ex-Reds still in the league.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Back from vacation with the family and impatient for the international break to end, I feel at loose ends. During these times, my mind tends to wander down meandering paths.

The latest: How would a Toronto FC retread team fare? We already know that this year’s version of the Reds is the greatest regular season team in club history. But what if we were without Giovinco, Bradley, Vazquez, Altidore, Morrow, Bono, et al? What if our beloved team was composed entirely of current MLSers who, at one point or another, donned the red, white and black (grey)?

Therein lies the criteria for our fantastical trip; the players must have been part of TFC’s first team, and they must still be listed on an MLS roster. Let the madness begin...

Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders): With Toronto from 2009–2013, Frei would be our man between the posts. It was a close call between him and Orlando City’s Joe Bendik, but Frei’s better save percentage over the past two seasons coupled with his lengthy tenure with the Reds gives him the edge.

Oh, almost forgot... there was that little MLS Cup final MVP thing, too. He likes BMO... a lot.

Defence

With this roster, we need to play four at the back. This ‘fantasy’ (almost nightmarish) squad is simply not skilled enough to employ a three-man back line. As for wing-backs... not a chance!

Josh Williams (Columbus Crew): Spending two seasons with the Reds (2015 and 2016), Williams was fairly solid when called upon. This year, he reunited with the Crew and has recently enjoyed something of a rebirth, playing 90 minutes in five of Columbus’ past six games. Incidentally, Columbus went undefeated and earned 11 points over those five matches.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Warren Creavalle (Philadelphia Union): Told you that the defence would be weak. The six-year MLS veteran played parts of 2014 and 2015 with TFC. Normally a defensive midfielder, Creavalle is a stay-at-home kind of guy who has dabbled on the back line. His size (5’11’’ and 170 lbs) would not be out of place in central defence. Also, if he needed additional defending tips, he could always consult his business partner, Ashtone Morgan. The two own a fledgling clothing line.

Marvell Wynne (San Jose Earthquakes): Okay, I had to stretch the rules a bit to squeeze this one in. Wynne has not played a game in 2017 due to a heart condition that was discovered during pre-season. But he is still listed on the Earthquakes’ roster, and he did play for the Reds from 2007–2009. So, he qualifies.

Good thing too: Wynne would be the anchor on this defensive unit. He has played over 2,300 minutes in each of the past six seasons as a natural full-back. He also has pedigree, winning the MLS Cup with Colorado in 2010.

Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact): Don’t laugh. You try to find another defender that fits our parameters. See why we need four men to try to protect poor Stefan Frei?

In fairness to Lovitz, though, he has reinvented himself this year. Playing mostly at left-back, he is on pace to play more minutes this season than he did over three combined years with Toronto (2014–2016).

Midfield

Given the above, the first priority at midfield is, obviously, to strengthen our defence. Second priority is, naturally, to transition to offence. Fortunately, we have the right players to do so. No real depth, but let’s stay positive.

Will Johnson (Orlando City): Johnson is in his 11th year as an MLS midfielder. Few will forget his leg-shattering goal to win the Canadian Championship for TFC in 2016. While he has scored 29 regular-season goals over his career, his strength nowadays is defence.

As proof, earlier this season, when a beleaguered Orlando side was down to nine men against an in-form Chicago Fire, Johnson was outstanding in his own end. Heroic, even. He, along with Bendik, secured a draw for the Lions and he rightfully earned man-of-the-match honours.

Matias Laba (Vancouver Whitecaps): Some would say that the only reason Laba was released by TFC after his lone 2013 season was because of the arrival of Michael Bradley. He has earned high praise over his short MLS career and, with only four goals and three assists in over 11,000 minutes of regular-season action, Laba’s prowess is clearly on the leeward side of the ball.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at FC Dallas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, his season was ended in August when he blew out his knee, but this is our fantasy. In this fantasy, Laba plays on one leg and Wynne plays with a defibrillator strapped to his chest.

Luis Silva (Real Salt Lake): Now we start to attack. Even when he was with the Reds in 2012, we knew that he was a talent. After a season-and-a-half at BMO, Silva was traded to D.C. United for allocation funds. I am still reeling from that trade. Remember the talk of Diego Forlan?

At any rate, Silva has been a real shot in the arm for an RSL team that has only lost once in its past nine games. During that stretch, Silva has six goals and one assist. Where is Forlan? The aged one (he’s now 38) was last seen playing for that international football powerhouse Mumbai City. I know... weird... didn’t think that he needed the money that badly...

Forwards

Remember that old game on Sesame Street ‘One of These Things’? Well, I think that this one is fairly obvious.

Max Urruti (FC Dallas): Yup, two games in 2013 for the Reds makes Urruti part of the active alumni. Not bad, eh? While both he and Dallas have been frigid cold in recent weeks, his 17 points in 24 games this year are more than enough to place him in our starting XI.

We all remember the fun that Max had at TFC’s expense earlier this season. Now it’s time for him to make up for those transgressions by plying his trade on our retread squad.

Joao Plata (Real Salt Lake): Silva and Plata have been great together so far this year playing in Sandy, Utah. Let’s hope that trend continues on our team. Plata has 11 points in 23 games during 2017, and that’s coming off 21 points a year ago. Aside from this, we get the added benefit of comic relief. Putting him (5’ 2”) and Urruti (6’ 0”) together would be a sight. Keeping with the Sesame Street theme: Elmo and Big Bird.

Dominic Oduro (Montreal Impact): This one really hurts. Cue the circus music. Here’s our misfit. But the only other viable choices that I could think of were Alan Gordon (Colorado) or Chad Barrett (RSL). Both have been relegated to bench players over the past few years.

Oduro, although highly irritating and childish, can provide moments of electricity and passion. His speed would also be a welcome addition to this squad. He just comes with a lot of baggage. Especially on top of his head.

Now that we have our starting XI, the next task is to try to determine how this squad would match up against the current rosters in the Eastern Conference.

To do this, I turned to the ever-popular Audi Player Index. For the record, I think that the Player Index is a neat idea. However, its execution is inconsistent and somewhat rudimentary at this stage. Nevertheless, there is a fairly strong correlation between starting XI average Audi scores and actual team standings.

As the below chart shows, our team of retreads would be ahead of D.C. United and would be battling it out with the likes of Montreal, Philadelphia, Orlando and (under-performing) New England for seventh place.

How the Retreads compare

Position Team Average Audi Rating (starting XI)
Position Team Average Audi Rating (starting XI)
1 Toronto FC (real) 344
2 New York City 341
3 Chicago Fire 330
4 NY Red Bulls 316
5 Columbus Crew 296
6 Atlanta United 316
7 Montreal Impact 272
8 New England Revolution 323
9 Philadelphia Union 283
10 Orlando City 275
11 D.C. United 242
N/A Toronto FC (retreads) 270

If we really did keep this group, then we would be no better (or worse) than what we were used to prior to the Giovinco-era. As a group, the Retreads were dispersed, and replaced, with the greater good in mind. No real surprises here. Nonetheless, thanks for taking this long and winding stroll with me. I enjoyed the company.