CBC Sports Online's soccer expert, John Molinaro, takes you inside the world of soccer and offers his insights about the action on the pitch and in the front office.
Toronto FC needs to get rid of Andy Welsh
Tuesday, July 31, 2007 | 11:09 AM ET
The time has come for Toronto FC to show Andy Welsh the door.
Welsh was touted one of coach Mo Johnston's "big" signings prior to the season, but the 23-year-old Scottish left winger has failed to impress during his stint with the MLS expansion franchise.
Welsh has scored just one goal in 17 appearances, a dreadful record when you consider rookie defender Andrew Boyens has the same amount of goals in 15 games.
Welsh's lack of offensive production would be tolerable if only he offered anything else substantial to the team. The problem is he doesn't, and his ineffective play is compounded by the fact that he makes more than $200,000 (roughly 10 per cent of the team's salary cap) and is the fourth-highest player on the squad.
Slight of build and small in stature, Welsh seems afraid of getting "stuck in" and tackling opposing players to try to strip them of possession. Instead, he has routinely impersonated a turnstile on the field, letting opponents dribble right by him without so much as throwing out a leg to try to stop them.
The Scot has great speed and pace but he doesn't use it effectively. He runs and he runs and he runs, but when he bombs down the wing, nine times out of 10 it doesn't lead to anything because he can't seem to beat that last defender – he either coughs up the ball or is stopped dead in his tracks.
I can tell you from personal experience that on more than one occasion this season reporters inside the press box at BMO Field have started Andy Welsh pools, placing wagers on what point in the game he will make his first of many fruitless runs down the flanks.
And you have to wonder how this guy manages to cross Toronto's bustling streets because he certainly can't make a cross into the box to save his life. The Scot's delivery is woefully inadequate – he either hits the ball over the head of teammates, hangs it up so the goalkeeper can easily pick it out of the air, or fails to even get past the first defender inside the box.
While it would be unfair to single him out for his anaemic performance in Sunday's 3-0 loss at home to the Chicago Fire – other Toronto players were just as bad – Welsh had a dreadful game on the right wing.
You would think that a guy playing out of position would make an extra effort to get involved. But for long stretches during the game, the Scot stood with his hands on his hips, choosing to hang back (as has become his trademark) and wait for the ball to come to him.
I studied him for the entire second half and I quickly noticed that central midfielders Carl Robinson and Maurice Edu, the dual fulcrum of the Toronto attack, repeatedly pushed the ball through the middle or towards the left side of midfield, and only made passes to Welsh out on the right as a last resort.
In the post-match news conference following the loss to Chicago, Johnston gave a surprisingly candid answer when asked by CBCSports.ca to rate Welsh's performance.
"I don't think he's played the way he should be. I felt early on in the season he did okay but as of late he's been in a shell and he hasn't done anything … He's certainly under-achieved," Johnston told reporters.
Unfortunately, Toronto's rash of injuries (the team was minus for its starters against Chicago) means Welsh's place in the starting lineup appears secure for the time being.
That's too bad, because he's a drain on the club and Johnston would be well advised to trade Welsh - if only he could find another team stupid enough to take him.
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About the Author
John F. Molinaro is a reporter for CBC Sport Online whose chief love is international soccer. John served as senior editor of Sports Online's Euro 2004 website, which helped him win a CBC.ca Award of Excellence, and was the driving force behind our coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He holds an honours BA in sociology from York University and a print journalism diploma from Sheridan College, and is also the author of The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time (Stewart House, 2002).
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