Who TFC should Protect From The Noisy Neighbours
The Noisy Neighbours residing in that nice city in La Belle Provence are coming to MLS in five months.
And I can’t wait.
Three hundred years of shared political and cultural history and five seasons of bad blood since Toronto FC got off the ground between the Reds and the Montreal Impact may create what might turn out to potentially be a derby up there with perhaps only Seattle v Portland and Pumas UNAM v Club América in its intensity on this side of the pond.
And as we all know by know from TFC’s history, and for that matter the recent history of the Union, Sounders, Whitecaps and Timbers, the MLS Expansion Draft is going to give Montreal either ten warm bodies from other MLS clubs to partially stock their roster and/or some warm bodies that they can use to trade with other clubs as they see fit, or some happy medium that Joey Saputo is OK with. I don’t know much about the inner workings inside the Saputo Cheese Factory and I have no clue how they will try and take advantage of the draft.
I am much more concerned about what Toronto FC will be doing and if Montreal will snatch a useful player off the unprotected list that TFC submits to the league. If you are TFC when the draft takes place on November 23rd the trick is to of course try and make sure that you do not lose a useful piece in this process to a rival if you can, or on the other hand if you set it up right you can off load a player on a less than ideal contract that makes a problem go away.
There are a few exemptions on the Toronto FC roster that Montreal can’t select and TFC don’t need to protect. Specifically the following players who are Academy graduates are off the grid. TFC has only one Generation Adidas player in Peri Marosivic currently who would also be exempt from the draft that I will add to the exempt list below:
- Ashtone Morgan
- Matt Stinson
- Donell Henry
- Oscar Cordon
- Nicholas Lindsay
- Keith Makubuya
- Peri Marosovic
So that leaves twenty four players currently with TFC that are eligible for the draft. Here is my complete yes or no list:
Eric Avila – Young, cheap, and interchangeable in the Winter system. A definitive MLS utility player with upside on a relatively cheap wage. Definitely worthy of protecting.
Danleigh Borman – The rampaging South African did not show me either enough going forward or enough as a fullback to warrant protecting. If he is lost, not too bothered.
Elbekay Bouchiba – A real question mark. He is a wily experienced veteran brought in early by Winter & Co. who lost his entire 2011 to injury. Whether he is nearer to a Soolsma or to a Martina (or hopefully better than both) we won’t know until next season. Until then, leave him unprotected.
Adrian Cann – Could be part of the answer at Centre Back next season assuming he recovers from his injury sustained earlier this season. I for one would protect him. If he recovers he is at least a decent MLS quality backup.
Kyle Davies – I saw him for about twenty minutes this season. Twenty minutes of throwaway time does not earn one a slot on the protected list ahead of many more deserving.
Julian de Guzman – To paraphrase the PR flack of NFL player Terrell Owens after his alleged “suicide attempt” a few years ago, “…TFC has $1.8 million reasons to not protect Julian in the expansion draft“. Last season he was not taken when exposed. I can’t foresee Montreal taking him this year for the same reasons Vancouver didn’t last fall. Leave him off the list.
Terry Dunfield – Even though he somehow did not get the minutes after the trade from Vancouver I think he might still be a useful quality piece to have around. And next season thanks to the front loaded contract Vancouver signed him to in 2010 TFC gets him for dirt cheap. Protect him please!
Richard Eckersley – His uncertain loan status from English Championship side Burnley is problematic for TFC and that murky future alone might make Montreal balk from choosing him if he was left unprotected. On the other hand he is a good MLS player who is young and wants to play here. I say protect him loan situation notwithstanding.
Stefan Frei – TFC has two quality keepers. Depth at the position gives the Reds either continuing quality in net no matter who plays or Paul Mariner some trade bait to reinforce other positions. Too good an asset to leave off the list. Protect him!
Torsten Frings – Captain, Designated Player, Team MVP and Leader of Men. Protected!
Leandre Griffit – If you missed the Dallas Champions League replay game the morning after the rain-out last summer ( I didn’t!) you missed this throw in in the Andy Iro trade make his unspectacular TFC debut as a second half sub. Leave him off the list.
Ty Harden – A great guy who however is at best a MLS journeyman who can fill a depth role for a club, either TFC or some other team. Not a starter or a player worthy of building around for the future, but a cheap useful player who happens to be a great guy in the dressing room. Reluctantly leave him exposed but hope he stays.
Andy Iro – Whether the Andy Iro playing alongside Ty Harden (who struggled) or the Andy Iro who excelled next to Chad Marshall in Columbus in past seasons is the real Andy Iro remains to be seen. I do not think he is worthy of protecting at this stage based on what we have seen.
Ryan Johnson – One of TFC’s best pick-ups this season past. Fair to say that without his contribution these past months in the Champions League the Reds would not have qualified for the knockout stages. Versatile with an upside. Protect him please!
Milos Kocic – Protect him for the same reasons TFC should protect Stefan Frei. And I love yelling from the south stands “…ANOTHER SAVE FOR MILOS!…” every time he made a nice save. I want to continue yelling that pithy chant next season.
Danny Koevermans – A goal a game pace for a guy who only started truly getting his game fitness back in the last couple of matches he played for TFC. As protected as protected gets.
Javier Martina – A lovely brace versus Portland in the March cold and that’s about it from Martiaa. One of Winter’s bigger errors was thinking this guy has the physical attributes to be successful in MLS. Un-protect him and take our chances.
Joao Plata – As with Eckersley, after the season he ust had and the potential he displayed this kid would probably be snapped up by the Impact in a heartbeat if he was left off the protected list. TFC will work out a deal for him. Protect him!
Nick Soolsma – In the last couple of months Soolsma looked to me like he made some significant progress compared to the lead footed overwhelmed player he looked like early on in 2011. Still I don’t think he made enough progress to get into the protected XI. Reluctantly expose the Dutchman who becomes a potential victim of the numbers game.
Nathan Sturgis – A forgotten piece from early in the season Nathan was a solid MLS player in his time in Seattle before coming to TFC. Not being a Winter “type” player might not mean he gets protected but that doesn’t mean he would not be useful somewhere else. On a reasonable MLS wage and relatively versatile… I think Montreal might just pick him.
Eddy Viator – Two starts, two subs and two yellow cards is not enough to rate much of anything, let alone a protected slot on the Expansion-Exempt list.
Dicoy Williams – Like Eckersley/Plata are a pair and Frei/Kocic are a pair too, so are Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams. If healthy he might factor into the Centre Back mix in 2012. Worthy of protecting in my opinion.
Mikhael Yourassawsky – Had flashes of promise last season but again those flashes did not lead to much time out of the Reserve Squad down the stretch after the team was overhauled in the summer. Leave him exposed.
Gianluca Zavarise – Pains me to leave a Canadian boy exposed, especially to another Canadian side, but again you can only protect eleven and he did not do enough or show enough to make that protected list. Could be snapped up by Montreal perhaps. I for one hope he sticks around.
So my “If I Was The Manager” Expansion draft protected list is (in alphabetical order):
- Eric Avila
- Adrian Cann
- Terry Dunfield
- Richard Eckersley
- Stefan Frei
- Torsten Frings
- Ryan Johnson
- Milos Kocic
- Danny Koevermans
- Joan Plata
- Dicoy Willians
Toronto FC will submit its list of eleven protected players to the League offices on November 21st.
Your thoughts on who TFC should or should not protect from the noisy neighbours are encouraged. Let us know who you would or would not protect.