In what was a busy Expansion Draft day in December 2016, Orlando City lost left back Mikey Ambrose, but before the day was over the Lions found a replacement in Donny Toia. I will be the first to admit that I was completely against this trade. I knew that Toia was a good player, but giving up the eighth overall pick for him was way too high, especially when Atlanta drafted the 2017 MLS Rookie of Year, Julian Gressel, with that pick. Or so I constantly said at the start of the year.
I was wrong though, and it turns out that it was a good piece of business and the veteran defender became a staple on the left side for Orlando City. While the Lions still gave up 58 goals this season, the defense was much better than in 2016 and Toia played a large part in that.
Consistency is a word that goes perfectly with Toia, and his 2,545 minutes back that up. He had the third-most minutes on the team — behind Joe Bendik and Scott Sutter — in 30 games and played the full 90 minutes in nearly 80% of his starts.
Defensively, Toia was a rock and it could be argued the 25-year-old was the best defender on the team. Toia had the most tackles (72), interceptions (52), and blocks (57) among his fellow Lions, and was second in clearances (87) behind Jonathan Spector, who totaled 137. However, his 43 fouls were also the second-most on the team.
On the offensive side it’s a different story. Toia’s 13 shots rank him in the bottom half of the team, and all but four of those shots were from distance. Being a defender, this is not completely surprising, nor are his his zero goals on the year, however both shots and goals are below Sutter’s totals, and the pair played roughly the same amount of minutes.
Toia did manage to get two assists on the year, both from crosses, but his 75% passing accuracy is below the team average of 79% and needs improvement. The left back’s four yellows were also the fourth-most on Orlando.
Picking a best game for Toia is difficult because of how consistent he constantly is. Every game Toia is in you know what you will get, and he shows his defensive skills. However, one game that does stand out is Orlando's 1-1 draw in the second Atlanta match-up, where the defender picked up the Man of the Match designation.
Toia did not allow anything down the left-hand side of the field and was a nightmare for opposing players, highlighted by his game-high total of eight tackles. He did not do much in attack, opting to stay back for most of the game. His 60% passing accuracy was awful, but the team’s passing accuracy was just 65%, so in relation it was about average.
Final 2017 Grade
The steady and consistent performances of Toia earned him a final grade of 6. The veteran back would have scored higher if he added more to his attacking game, but he still did well overall. You know what you will get from Toia. He was rarely spectacular on the field, but he did the job that was required of him and was one of the best defenders on Orlando City’s roster.
After featuring in all but four games and coming off the bench just once, Toia will again play an important role at Orlando City. The Lions signed Yoshimar Yotun, who can play left back, late in the season but used the Peruvian in a midfield role. Depending on who Orlando signs this off-season, Yoshi could spend time at left back and push Toia to a bench role. Most likely, though, Toia will be back as the starter for most of 2018.
Previous 2017 Player Season in Review Posts (Date Published)
- Kaká (10/25).
- Yoshimar Yotún (10/27).
- Dom Dwyer (10/28).
- Seb Hines (10/30).
- Jonathan Spector (10/31).
- Cristian Higuita (11/1).
- Cyle Larin (11/2).
- Carlos Rivas (11/3).
- Tommy Redding (11/4).
- Jose Aja (11/5).
- Hadji Barry (11/6).
- Joe Bendik (11/6).
- Antonio Nocerino (11/7).
- Servando Carrasco (11/8).
- Rafael Ramos (11/10).
- Leo Pereira (11/11).
- Giles Barnes (11/12).
- PC (11/13).
- Will Johnson (11/16).
- Richie Laryea (11/18).
- Earl Edwards Jr. (11/20).