• Duane Rollins

      Covering the world’s game from a Canadian perspective, the 24th Minute has been at the forefront for Toronto FC coverage since 2008. It is the source for breaking news, analysis and all things Canadian soccer.

    • Michael Crampton

      Mike Crampton has been an avid follower of Canadian club soccer and participant in the emergent Canadian soccer supporters scene for over a decade. When not playing, watching, or writing about the game he continues to serve the grassroots as an administrator at the local level. You can follow Mike on Twitter @BHTC_Mike

    • James Grossi

      James began covering the game in 2011 after a slow process of two decades saw him gradually consumed by it. He contributes to The Shin Guardian, Waking the Red, and had a piece featured in Issue Two of The Blizzard, as well as maintaining his own site, Partially Obstructed View. He covers the rest of MLS in the hope of providing context to fans on the edge.

    • Should he stay or should he go?

      Torsten Frings is done for the year. Should he be done at TFC for good?

      There is no question that Frings brings a quality that few athletes that have played in Toronto (in any sport) have ever brought. He was a key member of one of the glory national team squads and is likely the second most talented soccer player to ever play for Toronto FC/Lynx/Blizzard/Metros-Croatia/Metros/City.

      But, has he been worth the money? Has he performed to the point that a DP should have in a salary cap league? And, how much will his hip surgery impact his 35-year-old body?

      These are the questions that Toronto needs to address and address honestly. Perspectives about what Frings was do not belong in the conversation, and the opinion of average fans (who will likely lose his or her you-know-what at the suggestion of Frings being forced out), cannot be considered.

      Whether you trust the current football management team is irrelevant to the core point that no team can be successful without the ability of management to make autonomous decisions to build a club in their image. So, for the purpose this discussion it’s beyond pointless to talk about Paul Mariner, “hoofball” or any other issue people might have with the disaster that is TFC currently.

      To analyze the usefulness of Frings we need to look at Frings' play. And, then we need to compare it with the play of other players at the club that play a similar role.

      As a defensive midfielder Frings is most comparable to Terry Dunfield. So, looking at games since August let’s look at how Frings has performed in comparison to everyone’s second favourite former Whitecap on TFC.

      Using the Opta stats available on MLSsoccer.com, CSN looked at four statistical categories that are key to a holding midfielder’s game – passing efficiency, “key” passing (a clinical pass that produces a clear scoring opportunity), intercepting opposing passes, and recovering loose balls. We focused on games since Aug 1, excluding the most recent Kansas City game (when Frings was shut down for season).

      There are five games, four of which both players played in.

      With passing efficiency, Frings made 171 successful passes on 251 passing attempts for a passing efficiency rate of 68.1 percent.

      Meanwhile, Dunfield went 188 for 219, which is a passing efficiency rate of 85.8 percent.

      Not all passes are created equal, of course. So, we compared what type of passes the two men made. Of Dunfield’s passes we determined that 19 percent could be considered low risk (for the purpose of this measure we considered a pass to be low risk if it was less that 10-meters, or backwards towards TFC’s own goal).

      Frings numbers show 17.1 percent of low risk passes. So, we have a high risk passing percentage of 51 percent for Frings and 66.8 percent for Dunfield.

      One area that Frings clearly came out ahead was in the category of key passes. Frings made eight clinical passes that lead to scoring chances, versus just three for Dunfield.

      The ability to read the play and intercept the opposition’s play is a arguably the most important (and least seen) aspects of a holding mid’s job. During August, both players made nine interceptions.

      The measure of recoveries – gobbling up loose balls to regain possession – is as close to a work rate measure as you can find. The numbers for August? Frings 32, Dunfield 27.

      Frings, of course, brings an experience and leadership value that can’t be measured by Opta stats. The question TFC needs to ask is whether that value is worth more than the other important numerical value we’re yet to discuss.

      $2,322,666.66 (or, if you prefer, a $264,000 cap hit) – the difference in salary between the two players.

      (HT to Kurt Larson of the Sun, who started this debate 5-days ago)
      Comments 34 Comments
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        The hope was that Frings would help keep the ball out of the TFC net. Especially late in games. That hasn't happened.

        Del Piero just signed in Australia for 2yr/4mil. He will score in bunches down there.

        There is no doubt that Frings will not be back. That is what Mariner wants. He believes Maund is the next coming of Frings which he could never be.

        There is still a political mess with the brass. We will probably have a new coach halfway thru next year when we start 1-13 again. It is just sad. At least I know I can buy a cheap ticket 5 minutes after the game starts and not have to pay full price with my non-renewels next year.
      1. Duane Rollins's Avatar
        Duane Rollins -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        . That is what Mariner wants. He believes Maund is the next coming of Frings which he could never be.
        I'm sorry but this statement is absurd. First off no one knows what Mariner "thinks" other than Mariner. You don't like Maund. Fine. But, to suggest that Mariner thinks a 4-year college grad being paid a MLS league minimum is going to be the next coming of Frings is...dumb. It just is. That's not me defending Mariner, it's me defending thinking.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        I hear what you are saying, but really, this is MLS. I don't think it is tough at all to put together a competent team.

        Is it really that difficult to find 11 players to have at least one year of success? If other teams in their first year can do it - or even worse if a tanking team one year is hugely successful the next can be done, why can't we have just one good year? The Maund example was out of frustration, but I'm sure you don't believe that Maund, Weedman and Amarikwa are people that should be playing ahead of Avila is a good thing or having some of our players out of position is a good thing.

        Frings is a leader. But the talent surrounding him is not up to snuff. It was a good idea to bring him in, but only if he has complementary players with some skill and forsight. We don't have those.
      1. Duane Rollins's Avatar
        Duane Rollins -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        I hear what you are saying, but really, this is MLS. I don't think it is tough at all to put together a competent team.

        Is it really that difficult to find 11 players to have at least one year of success? If other teams in their first year can do it - or even worse if a tanking team one year is hugely successful the next can be done, why can't we have just one good year? The Maund example was out of frustration, but I'm sure you don't believe that Maund, Weedman and Amarikwa are people that should be playing ahead of Avila is a good thing or having some of our players out of position is a good thing.

        Frings is a leader. But the talent surrounding him is not up to snuff. It was a good idea to bring him in, but only if he has complementary players with some skill and forsight. We don't have those.
        The core difference between what I believe to be true, and what those that want to blame mariner for everything seem to believe to be true, is that I think Mariner was working for Winter getting players that fit Winter's system. Those players weren't good enough. So, mariner trued to shore things up by playing a very basic system that has allowed TFC to reduce it's goals against from 2.1 a game (which was damn close to a league record -- it projected to second worst all time) to around 1.4 goals a game. It hasn't been pretty, but he has stopped the bleeding for the most part.

        Based on the fact that he was a key part of a MLS management team that went to four straight MLS Cup finals I want to give him a full year. I simply do not think he's had anything close to full control of this team until now. Others disagree, so it's next to impossible to have a conversation about him since we're coming from vastly different starting positions.
      1. Duane Rollins's Avatar
        Duane Rollins -
        To be clear, I'm actually not arguing one way or the other with this piece. I'm simply suggesting that it's a conversation that needs to happen.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Duane Rollins View Post
        The core difference between what I believe to be true, and what those that want to blame mariner for everything seem to believe to be true, is that I think Mariner was working for Winter getting players that fit Winter's system. Those players weren't good enough. So, mariner trued to shore things up by playing a very basic system that has allowed TFC to reduce it's goals against from 2.1 a game (which was damn close to a league record -- it projected to second worst all time) to around 1.4 goals a game. It hasn't been pretty, but he has stopped the bleeding for the most part.

        Based on the fact that he was a key part of a MLS management team that went to four straight MLS Cup finals I want to give him a full year. I simply do not think he's had anything close to full control of this team until now. Others disagree, so it's next to impossible to have a conversation about him since we're coming from vastly different starting positions.
        Was the 2.1 a game from the whole season last year or this spring only before Winter's sacking? What was the goals against during the second half stretch (including CCL matches)?
      1. Brant_TFC's Avatar
        Brant_TFC -
        Frings provides leadership and experience..yes his age is against him fair enough..but IF he can get through this injury i sure he can still be a great asset to TFC for one maybe two more injury free seasons...whoever is the TFC manager next year...he has to use Frings smart..if were lucky to be up by 2 or more goals with 20 mins left..take him off and rest him..vice versa if were down 2 or more with the same time left...
      1. Poor Service's Avatar
        Poor Service -
        No chance Mariner wants Frings back.

        He's not a journeyman US college grad or a British plugger who gets stuck in.

        cya Frings
      1. narduch's Avatar
        narduch -
        The issue is going to be Frings salary. I foresee a similar situation like that which happened with De Guzman.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        Was the 2.1 a game from the whole season last year or this spring only before Winter's sacking? What was the goals against during the second half stretch (including CCL matches)?
        It's the MLS number from this year. The goals against in all competitions under Winter this year was 2.9 goals against. Under Mariner in all competitions it's 1.55.

        Duane
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Poor Service View Post
        No chance Mariner wants Frings back.

        He's not a journeyman US college grad or a British plugger who gets stuck in.

        cya Frings

        You too can read Mariner's mind?!
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        TFC now prefer to bypass the midfield altogether, so his stats will reflect that. And he was being played injured, that would have something to do with production as well
      1. Duane Rollins's Avatar
        Duane Rollins -
        TFC does not prefer to bypass the midfield in building attack. If you disagree then demonstrate to me that they *pass* the ball long significantly more than other teams. The Opta stats are there for anyone to look at.
      1. DCorr's Avatar
        DCorr -
        Duane - good articals lately.

        I think its more likely that Frings will not return. A lot will depend on his recovery and how well/badly it goes. Assuming he's well, I don't think he'll want to return and we may want to invest elsewhere. I'm not convinced the DP model really works that well. TFC needs to invest in several good players not just 3 very good ones and a bunch of crap ones. Frings is a good player, but if the rest of the team isn't of high enough quality, then who's open to receive his passes? Your stats above show it - Frings is better than Dunfield, but not 3x better. Good players seem to sink down tot he average level of their team.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Meh, I respect stats but much is left over that is not quantified.

        If nothing is missed, numbers should show that TD isn't a very good midfielder compared to most dm's on other teams. That is readily apparent I anyone watching.

        Sure those numbers look unfavorable to frings comparison to dunfield, but we have no idea how the program is calibrated or defines safe passes as opposed to risky. There are many potential shortcomings... Not that I've been much of a fan of his this year but I think that goes beyond the numbers
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        in my realistic dream world tfc would due away with older dp's and concentrate on building a team of relatively young 25ish that can play a system, I'd much rather have 5 players making 500k than one who makes 2.5 mil who is a big risk, honestly it just seems like a waste to me. they had to have known their team wasn't championship potential and bringing frings in in the first place was misguided, they need to wait until they have a good core before they bring in old dp's if they feel the need to, not the other way around bringing in dp's is a complete waste if your not going to win either way, which is a huge reason why hassli was a dumb move. sure he's good, but is he worth losing a pick when the season is already a bust, and anyone could see that their ccl dreams were a joke, silva can and does do his job. It appears that MLSE hires business types to run the team, but from what I've seen it's all been a complete joke from that side too. they could be pulling in way more than they are even with this shitty product.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        It's the MLS number from this year. The goals against in all competitions under Winter this year was 2.9 goals against. Under Mariner in all competitions it's 1.55.

        Duane
        No, in all competitions this year Winter's teams let in 32 in 18, which is 1.77777777 per game. In May, that was 6 in 7, or 0.85, much better than the 1.55 we've seen since.
        Not trying to make any arguments here. just wanted to correct a glaring inaccuracy in a piece that purports to be very neutral and statistical based.
      1. David Bailey's Avatar
        David Bailey -
        My take on this is a little bit different then my friend Duane's. My personal feeling is that Frings has had enough, that he doesn't want to play here anymore, that he has just had enough of the entire TFC morasse no matter how much money he is making.

        If his hip is indeed injured, then it makes for the perfect situation for the man to say "enough is enough, I'm done." In fairness to the man, he had a glittering career. Why is he allowing the mess that is TFC to tarnish his memories of the game? He doesn't need to.

        And let's not forget how Mariner threw him under the bus after the Santos Laguna match. He doesn't need that kind of disrespect from Mariner (and nor does he deserve it).

        Just my take. No evidence to back it (apart from the video of Mariner throwing Frings under the bus.)
      1. Fhurion's Avatar
        Fhurion -
        I think he's done...and he should be. Like others have said, he's a great player, but for the sake of the team and his reputation, he should call it quits.

        Announce it in the off season, put him up on the 'Wall of Honour' and bring him back at the home opener in 2013 to wave goodbye. Let him go back to Bremen and kick off his coaching career...then we can hire him mid-2013 when Mariner gets canned (which is inevitable)!
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by narduch View Post
        The issue is going to be Frings salary. I foresee a similar situation like that which happened with De Guzman.
        And which will also happen again for De Guzman after the season is over for Dallas, unless he's willing to forego the DP status and accept a substantial wage cut.
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