Never mind the names.

After every poor Toronto FC performance—and their 3-3 draw with the Montreal Impact last night was by no means “poor” in the sense of what we’ve seen in the past from the Reds—fans commiserate by trading names.

“Well, at least Jeremy Brockie looks like he’s legit.”

“Thank god for Steven Caldwell, amirite?”

“O’Dea is terrible, but at least he’s trying. Nice goal.”

It’s perfectly acceptable to praise/criticize players after an individual performance, but the name-talk has led to some skewed thinking from the TFC faithful: consistently maintaining the club a few guys away from being a good overall unit.

The problem with assessing players after a couple of games involves regression to the mean. Some guys are going to have good nights, maybe even a couple of good nights. Other guys are going to suck for a bit and then play okay, maybe even great once or twice. A lot of this is just noise; what matters are there career numbers, which should ideally reflect a level of consistency above your average journeyman player. If Toronto isn’t acquiring guys like that, they’re not going to do much better than they are now over the course of a whole season.

If you’re going to look at sign posts, check career stats, not single good performances. And if you’re going to assess the health of Toronto FC as a club, there are any number of sign posts. The club has scored 17 goals and conceded 24. Not terrible, but by MLS standards this season, not great. Have they been affected by bad luck?

I don’t have accurate MLS shot statistics, but extrapolating from whoscored data, we can roughly surmise that Toronto FC’s PDO is ~991. So, near enough to the mean that we can’t say the team is suffering from some bad luck this season. Their TSR is .434. Using this metric is dangerously preliminary as we don’t really know with confidence how TSR correlates to table finish in MLS, but in a European league, this would be fairly mediocre. Based on shots taken and shots conceded, Toronto is where it should be.

Can a few good players change that around? Of course, pending some intelligent coaching. But those players can’t be acquired based on a good feeling, but with sensitive, forward thinking scouting that ensures the team won’t be waiving them along as soon as they arrive. If that’s happening at Toronto FC, I haven’t seen the evidence.