On a peripheral level, Toronto FC's decision to part company with Alex Bono seems to make sense. He got the majority of the starts in goal these past two seasons, both of which saw the team allow a franchise-worst 66 goals.
Bono and fellow goalkeeper Quentin Westberg are both officially out of contract at the end of this year. One of the prevailing sentiment's is they are almost being painted as the scapegoats for TFC's failings at the back.
The reality is different however. As much as Bono (and Westberg) did perform below expectations, the defenders in front were just as bad, and arguably even worse.
The defence was never settled, with an ever-changing starting line-up as a result of injuries and inconsistent play. Chris Mavinga was the prime example of this, albeit he was not helped by off-field issues.
Alex Bono is out of contract at the end of this year and will not return to Toronto FC next season, but has the club made the right decision in parting company with the goalkeeper?
Certainly, when a player renowned for being one of the top centre-backs in MLS is not performing up to the scratch, those around you will suffer. And none more so than Bono, who was constantly having to deal with the instability in front of him.
Bono's resume is an impressive one, with several franchise records including most career wins for a goalkeeper and most clean sheets. More importantly, he was the man in goal for Toronto FC's historic treble-winning season in 2017.
A man of moral integrity
The 2015 sixth overall MLS draft pick believes his best years are still ahead of him, but Toronto FC don't feel the same way. Speaking to the Toronto Sun's Steve Buffery about a possible new deal with TFC, Bono said:
"I'm not exactly sure what the club's stance on it was, but to my knowledge there was no offer extended. There were no talks of a new contract. They're going to go in a new direction and I respect the club's decision. They have a lot of pieces in the right place and they're looking to finish the puzzle. From their standpoint it doesn't seem like I'm the guy. We haven't had any contract talks, so I'll be searching for a new endeavor."
Bono's comments tell you all you need to know about his character. He is a stand-up guy who doesn't make excuses or point fingers.
Consider the 28-year-old's response, when Buffery asked if he felt he was left hanging out to dry in a lot of games these past two seasons. Bono said:
"I've been here for eight years and you could probably count on one hand the amount of times I've ever thrown someone under the bus. And on my way out the door, that's not going to happen now. Every success we've had, every failure that we've had, has been a team effort. It's not fair to say that (any one or group of players) let us down ... I've always been the first guy to point the finger at myself, so go ahead and point the finger at me. I'll take it on the chin and show up tomorrow, go back to the corner and come back for the next round."
A success every step of the way
It will be interesting to see how Bono responds to the adversity and challenges. Ever since he started playing, he has enjoyed a lot of success.
As a youngster, the Syracuse, New York native was named the top goalkeeper in the state. This spoke volumes about his talent and potential.
In January 2015, Bono was called up to the United States Men's National Team for the first time. As per torontofc.ca, he became the first MLS draftee to be called into the national team prior to the Draft.
Bono made his TFC first team debut in 2016 and went on to start 15 regular season games. He showed early on he could more than hold his own at the MLS level.
The following season, it took an injury to Clint Irwin to pave the way for Bono and he took full advantage of the opportunity. He had a club single-season record 10 clean sheets and helped TFC win their first ever Supporters' Shield with a then MLS-record points total.
The four-time Canadian Championship winner continued his fine form in the playoffs. In five games he had three clean sheets and allowed just two goals, as TFC won their inaugural MLS Cup.
Plenty more to come
Bono has since faced several challenges, including losing his starting job to Westberg for two seasons. That he was able to win it back, alludes to his determination and self-belief.
In this respect, Bono has no doubt he will bounce back and succeed. As per Buffery, he said:
"I know that I have the ability to play at the highest level in this league (and) firmly believe that I will get back to doing that. I think that I'm always growing. I'm still getting better, I'm still learning, I'm still developing and that's not going to stop. I know I have so much to give this game."
The is plenty of compelling evidence to suggest Bono is right, but it won't happen in Southern Ontario. It remains to be seen if Toronto FC regret their decision to part company with the most successful goalkeeper in club history.
What is your opinion of the decision to let Bono leave? Do you agree with what Toronto FC did or not, and why? Let us know in the comments section below.