Ah, Conor Doyle. It's no secret that I'm one of the biggest Conor Doyle apologists out there. But I often qualify my love for the perplexedly-styled forward with a caveat: I love him for basically no reason.
Is a Doyle appreciation really without reason, though? Well, I'm sure you have your own opinion, but let's review.
Billed as a forward, Doyle has come to serve, however strangely, as Ben Olsen's go-to defensive substitute. It's an odd role, but Doyle came on as a sub and played 45 minutes or less 14 times in the 2015 season. This tendency to use Doyle to see out games seems a little silly on the surface—after all, he is ostensibly a player to score goals—but weirdly, it kind of worked, or at least it didn't fail.
That's the thing with Doyle, at least to me: He rarely stands out as either amazing or terrible. He can be generally depended on not to totally screw things up, but he's also not really a game changer. It's not the most ringing of endorsements, sure. But he usually puts in solid work for a team that runs on solid work.
He's cheap, too. $60,000 base salary cheap. Jared Jeffrey makes more than Doyle (not by much—$68K base salary—but still). We all know that DCU is not a team rolling in money, so a player like Doyle who's budget-friendly, mostly useful, and occasionally scores a Doyleazo is a decent guy to have on the roster.
That Doyleazo was a game-winner on the road, by the way. Of course, Doyle also scores weird fluke-y goals on Wednesday nights that make me stand on the orange seats of RFK and tell everyone I told them so. And those two goals—a rocket and a "lol what"—account for all of Doyle's goals in 2015. So no, he's not breaking any scoring records here, but I would argue that he's worth the hard work he does.
Toward the end of the season, Doyle took his hard work to a more midfield position. With guys like Fabian Espindola and Chris Rolfe, Doyle will never be the first choice up top, but there's a bit more room in the midfield for him angle for some minutes. He's still mainly a depth player, though, and I don't see that changing next season unless he suddenly goes on a real tear. United is sure to see some roster changes in the offseason, though—maybe that means more opportunity for Doyle to play, maybe it means less.
Maybe it just means more late subs and a couple of goals for good measure. The good thing about Doyle is that we can likely rely on him to do at least do more of the same, and he's shown flashes of doing better. For me, he doesn't come with any big downside.
So, is Doyle worth keeping? To my mind, it's an easy yes, but it's not up to me. You guys get the vote: Cake or death for Conor Doyle?
Keep in mind that with Chris Rolfe's recent haircut, Doyle's headband is a particular gift.