The numbers 157, 35, and 25 all come into play for TFC this year … and each is likely to get a bit higher before seasons end !

157 is the total number of players to suit up on a gameday for TFC since 2007 when we played our first MLS match. 35 is the number of players to be a part of the TFC squad for 2013 so far, and 25 is the number of players on the roster as of today ….

Total number of players used by season
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
39 38 29 34 42 35 35

Granted, not all 157 have made it to the pitch. Some had to be content to sit on the sidelines, a few were pool goalkeepers or emergency call ins for that ridiculous game MLS made us play when we had 9 players called up for international duty on a FIFA date which the league didnt recognise, and Zach Herold, though technically a full member of the squad didn’t even make it as far as the bench when medical issues forced his retirement before kicking a ball in anger for the first team. But even allowing for these anomalies, this is a huge level of turnover over the not yet full seven season life of the club. TFC’s average turnover is 24 players per season !!!! Thats 24 out of a normal roster of 30 players !!!  But forgetting averages for a second, how does this all stack up in the real world?

Between the end of the 2012 season and the start of the 2013 pre-season we cut ties with 16 players in one way or another …..

  • Quincy Amarikwa (traded to Chicago for 2014 supplemental draft pick)
  • Eric Avila (contract expired)
  • Adrian Cann (released)
  • Oscar Cordon (released)
  • Torsten Frings (‘retired’)
  • Freddy Hall (released)
  • Ty Harden (released)
  • Eric Hassli (traded to Dallas for 2014 2nd Rd conditional draft pick)
  • Ryan Johnson (traded to Portland for Joe Bendik, 1st Rd draft pick, and allocation)
  • Milos Kocic (traded to Portland for Joe Bendik, 1st Rd draft pick, and allocation)
  • Nicholas Lindsay (released)
  • Keith Makubuya (released)
  • Aaron Maund (traded to RSL for Justin Braun)
  • Jaoa Plata (traded to RSL for 2015 2nd Rd draft pick)
  • Matt Stinson (waived)
  • Dicoy Williams (released)


TFC Roster - Salary & Status
TFC Roster – Salary & Status

During 2013, we have brought in 17 players, 5 of whom – signed by the current management team – have already headed out the exit doors, with another 5 (in some cases only slightly) longer serving players joining them and undoubtedly a few more comings and goings before the transfer window closes.

In the process we have dumped more than $1.5m in salary, with almost one third of that coming from Darren O’Dea’s recent removal from TFC.

I dont think any sane person would argue that O’Dea’s salary was a huge millstone that needed to be addressed, or that our overall salary structure has been screwed up since 2007 and needed some radical surgery. I also confess to not knowing how much of that $1.5m we are now allowed to spend along with the mysterious allocation dollars we have accumulated, but the worrying aspect in all of this seems to be the endless revolving door culture we have cultivated since year one, and how, in many cases, we handle these departures.

Read TFC related posts on Twitter/Facebook, or peruse any combination of Forums, Blogs, or news sites like CSN and you will constantly see how we seem to unceremoniously dump players and tarnish what little is left of our reputation as a place players would actually be motivated to come to …. [singlepic id=11872 w=320 h=240 float=left]Looking just at the most recent two departures, the social media chatter – along with a terse release from the club – suggests that O’Dea was in Kansas and put back on a plane on game day to finalise a transfer/exit while Luis Silva was called into the offices during training at Downsview and told to be on a plane to DC just a few hours later … neither had any say, nor any pre-warning by all accounts and both will likely have to return to tie up all sorts of loose ends on the domestic front.

If you want to add various stories/anecdotes into the mix surrounding DeRo, DeGuzman, Plata, Dunfield, Frings, or quite a few others, or you want to go further back and talk about the “retirals” of Brennan or Dichio, then it seems to be more of a toxic culture within the club than the odd screw up ! Of course there are two sides to every story and some of the examples quoted may have more complicated scenarios, but the optic – even amongst the most faithful of supporters – is that of a club who consistently treat players like something on the bottom of their corporate brogues when they feel they have outlived their usefulness or in some cases, had the temerity to say or do something publicly that did not toe the company line ….. Its a huge part of the problem. 

Longevity Matrix
Longevity Matrix

I do tend to believe that Messrs. Nelsen & Payne have a plan, and that this plan calls for stabilising the huge disparities in our wage structure so we can build a roster of solid MLS-ers rather than the current situation. I can and have bought into that plan. I realise that the situation which has often seen us with one or more DP’s, a few ‘luxury’ players (read desperation signings) on almost DP salaries but without the designation who eat up a lot of the finite cap space, leaving us to fill out the rest of the roster with make-weight signings is unsustainable and I know it will take a little time to rectify that – we have been patient for a number of years on that front. I also accept that some of the decisions may seem strange or unpalatable and reserve my right to dislike those decisions. And to top it all, I even understand that the addition of Tim Leiweke to the top post at MLSE may also throw a bit of a spanner in the “PaySen” plan because he is actually a “soccer guy” and clearly showed he has his own lofty ambitions for TFC as well.

However, there is no excuse for the way we seem to treat our assets, or for the timing in “disposing” of them, which always seems to be right before games where we may need that player!!! We are then left demoralised and short-handed and invariably seem to blow it again and again – just like we did with gutless performances in Kansas and again last night versus Chivas who had not won a game in their last 14 attempts !!!  Some people can try to blame the last management team if they want … we have after all had 8 of them in 7 years so its not exactly a new cliche …. but the fact from last night is that only 2 players on the park were actually a part of the last regime … and the fans are not stupid !!!!

This post is getting way too long so I will wrap up by leaving you with another number …. and that number is 367

367 will be the number of days since we last won at BMO when we take the field against Thierry Henry and the NY Red Bulls on Saturday afternoon !!!

TFC Player Lifespan (days)
11 19 28 40 36 23 367

367 is also the average TFC career lifespan – in days – of a player who signs for Toronto FC ! Maybe there is an indirect link between these two factoids …… I leave you to draw your own conclusions !

It should be noted that within that 367 average you have a wide variation from 1 day emergency signings or pool goalkeepers all the way up to the likes of Stefan Frei who has been with the club for 1645 days and counting … but 98 of those 157 players who have come through the BMO entrance have high-tailed it out the exit within a calendar year, and only 23 have managed to stay beyond 2 seasons ! That is not how you build consistency or loyalty from the players … or dare I say it, from the fans !  


  1. Yes, no consistency and consequently no loyalty from the players. Be ready for the next shoe to drop. Could it be Stefan Frei or perhaps Danny Kovermans. Time will tell and we should find out shortly.

  2. John Walter

    Thank you for writing this article. This is something that’s been bothering me for some time. Thank you for compiling these stats as well, I’ve been thinking of building a spreadsheet over every TFC player ever signed and when they left as I was curious about these stats… Any way we could get similar stats for other teams, I’d be fascinated to see how they compare and/or if there’s any correlation between player stability and positive results on the field.

    1. Hi John. Have not contrasted it with rest of the league but its an
      interesting idea. pretty sure we would see a large difference …. or
      maybe a few teams who had a season or two of turmoil, but not every
      season being one of turmoil !

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