It always seems off-putting to complain about something on a club where things aren’t going too badly. What’s worse, it reinforces the stereotype of journalists as a bunch of negative nellies, always sitting around waiting for the next thing to be all cynical about.
That said …
New England has lost just one in nine league matches since early may (a 5-1-3 record). The Revs shook off a slow start to climb right into the thick of playoff possibility.
How? Well, Jose Goncalves has established himself as one of the league’s top center backs. Bobby Shuttleworth has been strong enough in goal to displace the longtime incumbent at Gillette, Matt Reis. Rookie right back Andrew Farrell is coming along nicely.
Diego Fagundez may be inconsistent, but the kid brims with bright upside. Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe continue to provide something dynamic in the attack and Chad Barrett has been a pleasant surprise.
So, of course, I want to talk about Juan Toja (pictured above).
I watched Toja enter for Fagundez in the 88th minute of Saturday’s win over San Jose and I thought (and put on Twitter): “This is what the Revs get for $300,000? Three minutes of mop-up duty for the 18-year-old kid?”
It really has reached the point of being fairly ridiculous.
Toja isn’t going to be a factor. He just isn’t going to be the midfield dynamo that made such a splash for Dallas and at the MLS All-Star game back in 2007. The evidence is fairly overwhelming at this point.
Toja produced no goals and no assists in five matches last year after his late summer arrival into Gillette Stadium. Health and fitness were clearly and issue.
But they continue to be, and that’s as concerning as anything else. Halfway through this year, in nine starts and four more off the bench, the Colombian lefty has … no goals and no assists. So in almost a full year of soccer for New England, his sum contribution has been three shots on goal. That’s it.
At this point he’s just wasted salary. And in Major League Soccer, $300,000 is a ton of dough. Just think about what Jay Heaps’ team could do with that money!
New England took a chance, and that’s OK. Toja demonstrated enough previously that he was probably worth it, although his inability to stick anywhere for more than two years was surely a warning sign.
But it didn’t work, and New England should move on.