With the MLS Re-Entry Draft fast approaching, we take a look at 3 potential players Toronto FC should be targeting with the ninth overall pick.
The 2015 MLS Re-Entry Draft is set to go on December 11 at 3 PM. It is only the sixth edition of the Re-Entry Draft, with the first one having come in 2010. The selection process is made up of players who have had their option declined or their deal expired.
The order is determined by the reverse order of the standings – in other words, they actually reward tanking. TFC’s virtuoso playoff exit earns them the ninth overall pick, meaning that their desired targets could very be gone before it’s their turn. However, it’s pretty obvious that TFC are trying to boost their backfield during the offseason, and there could be someone waiting for them at the ninth spot.
There aren’t a lot of talented players available, and the process is almost the equivalent of free transfers in European football. But sometimes you can find a James Milner so let’s look at the best targets available at each part of the pitch.
GK: Donovan Ricketts
A goalkeeper might be the club’s number one priority over a defender after releasing both Joe Bendik and Chris Konopka. As it stands, the only two keepers on the team are Alex Bono and Quillan Roberts. Having a great keeper can make or break a team, and that’s why TFC should go after a veteran like Donovan Ricketts. The Jamaican has played more than 13 seasons of club football and 15 of international football. He was the captain of his national team and is a proven leader. He is also a proven MLS talent, having twice won Goalkeeper of the Year.
Having a veteran in the dressing room is nothing but positive for a young team like Toronto FC. As a collective unit, last season was their first in the playoffs and they need someone who’s been there before to keep their egos in check. He split time with Orlando City and the LA Galaxy last year, and while he is not the same player he used to be, he can still offer something valuable to this club. If he’s off the board before the ninth spot, another option to look towards at the same position would be Tally Hall.
CB: Jermaine Taylor
I know, another Jamaican. Before you accuse me of smoking too much buddha, hear me out on this one. For one, he’s a versatile defender, who can play in both the center and on the left. He was a consistent performer for the Dynamo last season and put in a man-of-the-match caliber performance in a 3-1 win over the Timbers.
He’s another MLS veteran with proven playoff experience, having been a part of two conference championship winning teams for Houston. Bringing him in would serve as an upgrade over a player like Eriq Zavaleta who was too inconsistent for my liking.
That being said, this is the best option at defense in an otherwise shallow list of candidates. Many free agent options, like Drew Moor, opted out of participating in the Re-Entry Draft. If there’s another defender they could look towards, Jeb Brovsky might be the name, but TFC would be best served using a designated player slot at this position.
MID: Boniek Garcia
I wrote earlier that Toronto should try to pursue Will Johnson, but there’s no guarantee of that happening. In terms of midfield options available at the Re-Entry Draft, Boniek Garcia is a name that they should keep an eye on. He’s a good winger who can slot into a 4-4-2 and swing in some decent crosses. There’s also a pretty decent chance that Luke Moore won’t be back with the club next year, and Boniek can make up for that loss. If they don’t get Boniek, the next best option available could be Michael Farfan.
A recurring pattern between the three candidates listed is that they’re all above the age of 30. While that can sometimes translate to wasteful production, I think veterans are a good thing for Toronto FC’s development. It doesn’t matter too much if these guys don’t produce well because we got them for free and can release them at the end of the year. Right now, this team needs a leader who can provide a great atmosphere in the dressing room, has a winning pedigree, and can take this team to the next level. While Michael Bradley provides that, he isn’t a proven MLS player who has prepared against different coach’s tactics multiple times over.
I’ve offered my best take, but I’m not Tim Bezbatchenko. It’s up to his men to decide who is the best available player for Toronto FC. You can catch the first round of the MLS Re-Entry Draft on December 11 at 3 PM via live stream.