First, Morgan is a homegrown player, and thus an example of an academy player whose dreams of professional success have been fulfilled. The road from a youth academy to professional stalwart is a hard one to follow, so any player who reaches this milestone should be celebrated. Congratulations, Ashtone!
Second, Morgan is the first player in Toronto’s history to make 100 appearances. According to a quick reckoning of the league schedule, the Reds were playing their 261st league game when Morgan made his 100th appearance. I don’t have a complete record of all of Toronto’s lineups, so I can’t say whether Morgan’s appearances include non-league competitions such as the Canadian Championships or CONCACAF Champions League.
It is both surprising, and not, that it took Toronto this long for one of their players to make 100 appearances. The team has long been a revolving door for coaches (Greg Vanney is the ninth in team history). No coach has led more than 64 games. In these conditions, with new coaches constantly joining the club and re-shaping the roster, it is in some ways amazing that even Morgan has made 100 appearances.
To put this pace (100 appearances between 2007 and May 2, 2015) in some perspective, I looked through Crew history and discovered something that I think is interesting.
During the time that Toronto was working toward Morgan’s 100th game, the Columbus Crew played 305 games in official competitions – including the regular season, playoffs, US Open Cup, and CONCACAF Champions League. During that period, the team saw seven players make at least 100 appearances:
170 - Danny O'Rourke 146 - William Hesmer 130 - Robbie Rogers 128 - Emmanuel Ekpo 118 - Guillermo Barros Schelotto 107 - Brian Carroll 106 - Justin Meram
This figure speaks to the relative stability enjoyed by Columbus over the last eight years – but there is an even more amazing aspect to this list:
Brian Carroll and Justin Meram were never on the Columbus roster together.
While Toronto has been slowly struggling, turning over their roster seemingly every year, the Crew have had a player (Carroll) make his debut, play more than 100 games, and leave the team. A second player has then joined the team, and also played more than 100 games. Before Toronto was able to manage that feat once.
The kicker to all this? Brian Carroll joined the team in 2008 – a year after Toronto began playing.
EDIT: The Twitter account for the SB Nation blog on Toronto FC , Waking the Red has clarified for me that Ashtone Morgan’s 100 appearances include games in the CONCACAF Champions League and Canadian Championship:
— Waking The Red (@Wakingthered) May 26, 2015
This makes my comparison with the seven Crew players an apples-for-apples exercise, as those totals also include appearances across all official competitions. Many thanks to the folks at Waking the Red for the additional context.