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Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Perspective – The Present vs. the Past: Depth for Toronto FC & Over Paying for Players

     It has taken 5 long years, over a hundred players, 6 coaches, several ticket price increases and a few fan protests, but Toronto FC has finally achieved one of the key goals of a good MLS squad, depth. This season Toronto has fielded 25 of their 30 man roster, an impressive feat of rotation when one considers those who have not played, Elbekay Bouchiba, Milos Kocic, Demitirius Omphroy, Nicholas Lindsay, and Matt Stinson. Two of whom are injured, Bouchiba and Lindsay, while draft pick Omphroy, academy graduate Stinson, and backup keeper Kocic, have featured in the lone reserve match along with a plethora of academy youths. This intentional usage of the entire squad by Aron Winter, not only brings every player into the fold of the first team, allowing them to feel a part of the whole, but also keeps everyone fresh and on their toes, knowing that a bad performance or a lazy training session could mean they spend some time on the side lines.

     Toronto FC has struggled throughout its existence to be able to replace a player with someone of comparable talent when necessary. A good spell in Season One quickly ended with the loss of Ronnie O’Brian to knee injury, every one recalls the game so many players were lost to international duty that Canadian Legend Rick Titus, as well as, Head Scout Tim Regan, were drafted into a make shift squad to face Chivas USA in 2008, and even last year, the heavy schedule induced by the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League was the downfall for a team that had playoff potential, but sputtered in the summer heat after a promising start.

     A quick look at the recently released salary list of MLS players reveals one of the key flaws in TFC’s previous attempts at squad building. Of the top 50 wage earners in MLS, 6 (de Guzman; 5th, De Rosario; 13th, Ruiz; 23rd, Wynne; 25th, Stevanovic; 36th, and Barrett; 46th) have all passed through or play in Toronto, which could be responsible for their inflated wages, especially for Wynne and Barrett. Only two of those players are still in Toronto, which has conscientiously decided to control their wage expenditure this season, as they rebuild. Only 6 players make over 100K, while 14 make ~50K.

     Dissection of the top 50 earners lends some interesting information. Los Angeles, New York, Columbus,  New England, and Philadelphia all have 4 players on the list; LA has 3 in the top ten (1st,4th, & 6th), New York has 2 (2nd & 3rd), while Columbus, New England, and Philly’s highest paid players do not appear on the list until 10th, 12th, and 17th respectively. Considering New England (12th, 20th, 31st, & 50th), as cheap, and Columbus (10th, 22nd, 48th & 49th), as  small market, it is unusual that they would have 4 high earners, while Chivas USA (35th & 43rd) and Sporting Kansas City (34th & 42nd) are by far the cheapest of the teams listed. Unsurprisingly, Real Salt Lake has the most players on the list (5), though their highest paid player, Javier Morales, does not appear until 14th, subsequent team mates appear at 24th (Saborio), 26th (Beckerman), 27th (Olave) and 47th (Johnson) , speaking to the value in spreading the wealth around to build a healthy, balanced squad. Every team, except for Chicago, has at least 1 player listed; San Jose’s lone representative is Bobby Convey at 21st.  Chicago’s lack of a top 50 player can be reasoned as rebuilding following expenditures on the likes of Nery Castillo, Freddie Ljungberg, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Brian McBride in recent years.

     Deal of the list is surely Charlie Davies, whose loan from Sochaux is listed at a cost of $244,870; 41K per goal, he has 6 on the season, which compares well with the 1.4M per goal for Thierry Henry and 575K per for Landon Donovan, while off the top 50 Columbus’ Emilio Renteria, earning just 120K costs just 30K per goal.

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