Six All Stars on TFC? Not Likely!
Wednesday afternoon saw Major League Soccer release the fan ballot for voting ahead of next month’s annual MLS All Star game versus Manchester United in New York.
League rules for this selection process mandate that each club has to put forward six candidates for selection. And for TFC they are:
- Julian de Guzman
- Javier Martina
- Joao Plata
- Maicon Santos
- Tony Tchani
- Stefan Frei
If you feel like voting the link to do so is here: http://www.torontofc.ca/news/2011/06/six-reds-2011-att-mls-all-star-ballot.
I have already done so and I chose to select the only player on this list that has been even close to being at the top of the league this season in terms of performance and consistency and that would be Stefan Frei. Each of the others in my humble estimation are simply there due to the rules of the game that require six players to be nominated per team.
Julian de Guzman
He has had flashes in this new setup that the Reds are playing that show the kind of player he was in La Liga. And there was the little matter of off season surgery that precluded him from having much of a training camp to prepare for what is a long season in MLS. But the excuses and justifications explaining underwhelming results from a player making near to $2 million are starting to wear a little thin in his third season with Toronto FC. He is TFC’s designated player yet he is nowhere near to being a leader on the field based on his skills and pedigree. When DeRo went to New York there was no thought of making him Captain. He has taken stretches of time off on the field.I thought he would thrive in this new approach that TFC is taking. I must admit to being significantly disappointed.
All Star? – No Way!
Two Goals in one game…. one of them a real cracker! But again that is about it. Those two goals came at home versus Portland and Martina benefited from the additional room he had out right with central striker Alan Gordon doing a great job of tying up their centre backs. Since then he has not shown much more than flashes of the skill he apparently has in him. Again it is possible that he is the type of player that needs better quality service in order to prosper in this league. Or its possible that he is just another workmanlike average European player that TFC has had a history of overpaying for mediocre results. He could as the season wears on improve and become closer to the player that put the Timbers to the sword back on that chilly day in March. I’ll believe it when I see it.
All Star? – Not A Chance!
Not only has he been exciting to watch his stats speak to the quality of the work he has done on the field since he earned his way into the starting XI. In six starts he has scored two goals and set up two others. Sadly for TFC his two assists lead the club. He would look even better with Alan Gordon back in the lineup as the room he creates with his pace and trickery on the ball makes it easier for his strike-mates to get room to do their work more effectively. And he has been just about the only bit of offensive excitement on the field all season. His value in what he adds to the team by getting fans excited and engaged in the games he has appeared in makes the flyer TFC took on him with the very last pick in the draft an inspired choice.
All Star? – Worthy of the nomination but not there just yet.
Maicon has quietly started putting together a decent season after a slow start. To me it looked like the burden of the captains armband was weighing heavily on him and his performance early on saw him subbed off early game after game after game. And like Plata he has had to adjust the style of player he is due to the fact that key central player Alan Gordon has been on the shelf for a while now. In spite of being asked to be the kind of player he is obviously not he still leads the club in goals with five. He scores just a little over a goal every two games. He leads the club on shots on goal with ten and in shots overall with thirty (more than twice that of any other TFC player). His is getting better but the players ahead of him in goals this year, Wondolowski, Henry, Donovan and Rodgers are all more worthy of selection.
All Star? – Worthy of the nomination but not an All Star.
Each time I see this kid play I see flashes from him that explain why MLS gave him a Generation Adidas deal, why the Red Bulls selected him second overall in the draft last season, and why TFC insisted that he be the deal breaker with New York for them to secure the services of Dwayne De Rosario. He is strong. His touch on the ball is a revelation to me and many others. To me he looks like he can be a long term option in the midfield for TFC in the years ahead. As he learns more and more I see him having much more of a true box to box role within the TFC midfield.
All Star? – Talented but still a little too raw for selection.
Stefan is as good a shot stopper as there is in this league, mediocre stats notiwthstanding. And there is no lack of quality keepers in MLS for him to be compared to. He has played every league minute this year. He has had only one game (versus Philadelphia late last month) that could be categorized as a poor outing. He leads all of MLS in shots and in saves. And I would argue that he probably also leads all of MLS in touches of the ball considering the role he plays in the implementation of the 4-3-3 approach in Toronto and that he often starts the offensive push forward with a pass to a defender or a midfielder from the back. His workload has gone up. His responsibility has gone up. The burden of leading his club has grown in size and in scope. He has worn the captains armband in the absence of Maicon Santos and it will take a herculean effort on the part of any of his teammates to take the TFC MVP award from him this season. It is his in a walk.
All Star? – Anything less than significant minutes again Manchester United next month would be a huge disservice to TFC’s only true All Star candidate.
Let me know what you think.