Perhaps more concerning than the 2-1 loss, however, was the flat performance the team delivered in yet another of many chances they have been given to save their season. From top to bottom TFC continue to look out of ideas.
In a listless second half performance where Toronto halfheartedly tried to get back into the game, one player stood out: Jay Chapman. The 24-year-old Canadian created several opportunities as a second half substitute and was far and away the club’s most positive player.
This isn’t an isolated performance. Chapman has quietly been putting together the best season of his career and deserves to keep getting opportunities as the season progresses.
The 2018 Voyageurs Cup, which gets underway for Toronto FC tomorrow night in Ottawa, should present Chapman a few more starting opportunities. In what are almost certainly the biggest games remaining in Toronto FC’s season, Chapman should be given a chance to make his mark.
Take a quick look at a stats sheet and it’s pretty easy to see that this is the best Chapman has ever played. This season has already been a career year in goals, shots on target, shots per game, key passes per game, dribbles per game, tackles per game and key passes per game. Essentially, he has improved in almost every metric.
But what has made Chapman truly stand out this season is his chance creation. Of those who have played at least 500 minutes this season, only Sebastian Giovinco has a higher expected goals + assists than Chapman according to American Soccer Analysis. When looking at chances created from open play, nobody on Toronto FC has been better.
Adjusting for minutes, among MLS midfielders who have spent at least 500 minutes on the field this season, here is Chapman’s company in terms of chances created (xG+xA) per 96 minutes:
The issue with Chapman, of course, is that neither he nor his teammates have been finishing these chances at the same elite rate as he has been creating them. Toronto FC have been the worst team in the league this season at finishing their chances, so the more misses Chapman compiles, the more ire he draws from supporters.
He doesn’t have to look far, however, to find a player who started finishing chances and turned his fortunes around. Jonathan Osorio potted his tenth goal in all competitions this past Wednesday, a sign of what a little bit of confidence in the box can do for a player.
With the Voyageurs Cup mandating that each team start three Canadian players, Osorio will also likely be leaned upon heavily by Toronto FC. But with Victor Vazquez still on the sidelines, Chapman could be a key in creating chances for Toronto.
Score effects tell a bit of the story, but it is no coincidence that all four of Toronto FC’s shots on target on Saturday came after Chapman had been introduced. He took two of them himself, created Giovinco’s chance, and won the free kick that resulted in Toronto’s lone goal.
It came from the kind of fiery play that Toronto has been missing this season. Chapman seemed like one of the lone TFC players who wasn’t just going to peacefully settle for another away loss.
Toronto FC needs that kind of mentality right now as they head into the one competition where they can salvage something from this otherwise disappointing season. It’s why Chapman deserves to be a key player in Toronto FC’s Voyageurs Cup run.