Under Construction

The second stage of the Re-Entry Draft passed with the Timbers again declining to select anyone, to little surprise. It was left to Real Salt Lake to raise eyebrows when they selected Lovel Palmer.

There’s no doubting that Jason Kreis and Garth Lagerwey have shown an ability in the past to build good squads but, as they rebuild their team after a less-than stellar 2012 (sound familiar?), this is still a move that causes me some head scratching. There were occasional games and flashes of the kind of player Palmer could be (mostly for Jamaica), but these were vastly outweighed by ineffectual and downright bad performances that earned him the “facepalmer” nickname among some fans. Perhaps Jason Kreis is just the man to wheedle some kind of consistency from Palmer after a frustrating spell in Portland. Anyway, let the countdown begin to the inevitable 45 yard screamer into the top corner the first time the Timbers visit Rio Tinto.

Following the recent moves, and the re-signing of Danny Mwanga, it leaves the roster looking something like this:

# Pos Player Name Age Country
21 M Diego Chara 26 Colombia
9 F Kris Boyd 29 Scotland
D Michael Harrington 26 USA
12 D David Horst 27 USA
35 D Andrew Jean-Baptiste 20 USA
8 M Franck Songo'o 25 Cameroon
13 D/M Jack Jewsbury 31 USA
M Will Johnson 25 Canada
24 F Sebastián Rincón 18 Colombia
33 D Hanyer Mosquera 25 Colombia
1 GK Donovan Ricketts 35 Jamaica
6 M/F Darlington Nagbe 22 Liberia
17 M Eric Alexander 24 USA
11 M Kalif Alhassan 22 Ghana
GK Milos Kocic 27 Serbia
98 D Mamadou "Futty" Danso 29 The Gambia
19 F Bright Dike 25 USA
90 GK Jake Gleeson 22 New Zealand
18 D Ryan Kawulok 22 USA
27 D Chris Taylor 23 USA
22 D/M Rodney Wallace 24 Costa Rica
7 M Sal Zizzo 25 USA
16 M/F Brent Richards 22 USA
F Ryan Johnson 28 Jamaica
10 F Danny Mwanga 21 DR Congo
20 F Jose Adolfo Valencia 20 Colombia
2 F Mike Fucito 26 USA

With the Timbers having traded away all their picks in the 2013 SuperDraft – an interesting development considering Caleb Porter would be the one head coach in MLS who’d be best placed to judge the quality of the crop of players coming through this year – any further moves are likely to be players coming into the league from abroad, or further intra-MLS trades.

Portland Timbers Depth Chart 2013
Portland Timbers Depth Chart 2013

Looking at the current depth chart, there are a few things that stand out. One, we’ve got loads of strikers. Like, tons. If, as we suspect, we’re going to be playing with one guy in the middle, it’s very likely we’ll see at least a couple of these guys gone by the time First Kick rolls around.

portland_timbers_forestRumour still swirls around the future of Kris Boyd, with the bastion of journalistic integrity, The Sun, reporting that Boyd is set to be axed by the Timbers. Nottingham Forest, where Boyd had a fairly productive loan spell, have been linked with the Scot and they would certainly fit the bill as the sort of club I’d expect him to go to – Championship, fringes of the play-offs, looking for that extra little push to put them over the line. We’ll see what happens there.

Gavin Wilkinson, deflecting rumours about the club being interested in signing Mikkel Diskerud, did confirm that the Timbers were actively seeking to bring in a creative, attacking midfielder. A look at the depth chart shows that the Timbers do lack that creative guile through the middle, so it certainly makes sense that it’s there that the Timbers are looking to add to.

Yesterday Merritt Paulson echoed his General Manager in confirming the club were actively pursuing an attacking midfielder.

Two areas where GW/CP still want to make additions: creative mid and right back. Goal is to have all spots filled by start of pre-season

There is a real dearth of options at right back currently. Palmer and Kosuke Kimura have both departed leaving Ryan Kawulok, who hasn’t been given his chance yet, and Jack Jewsbury, as well as Michael Harrington who could fill in on either side. Paulson’s tweet would seem to indicate that Jewsbury is no more than a depth option at right back, which makes sense to me as I think his lack of pace would leave the side vulnerable, but it once more feeds into the insecurity around Jewsbury’s spot on the team.

Stumptown Footy recently had a piece on Wilkinson talking to both Jonathan Bornstein and Robbie Findley, two players that the Timbers hold the MLS rights to, with the strong suggestion that at least one of the two is an immediate target.

Findley has struggled in Europe since leaving RSL at the end of the 2010 MLS season. He hasn’t scored for Nottingham Forest (them again) since February 2012 and a loan spell at League Two side Gillingham ended after a month, with a sum total of 243 minutes on the pitch, one league start and more yellow cards than goals (1-0). A common refrain from Forest fans about Findley is that he is a striker who seems to be utterly bereft of confidence, and a return to the States may be just the thing to get him back on track as he’s unlikely to break into the Forest team any time soon.

Bornstein’s move to Mexico hasn’t been terribly fruitful for the US international, and Tigres seem to be making another effort to move him on. Of the two, Bornstein would seem like the more logical “get” at this point. We’re practically tripping over strikers at the moment, and I’m not sure we need to be taking on a drastic rehab case like Findley on top of everything else 2013 will bring. Bornstein could add depth to midfield and at left-back (perhaps pushing Harrington to right back). Again, we’ll see what, if anything, happens there.

Someone definitely arriving in Portland very soon is Caleb Porter. The new head coach bid farewell to Akron, and can now give his full attention to the Timbers as pre-season looms every bigger on the horizon.

12 thoughts on “Under Construction

  1. You forgot that Zizzo can play right back, too! That makes 4…not sure why MP thinks we need another?!

    In all seriousness, I truly like Kawulok. Thought he did great in the pre-season small tournament (with SJ, Chivas & AIK) last year. I was so excited to see him play…and then nothing! Hoping he gets his chance in 2013!

    1. Sorry PamG, I can’t say that I think of Zizzo as a RB since I always thought his defending as a midfielder was questionable. He is probably a little undersized for the position but his speed and ability to play wide really set him up well to play more of a true winger position in my opinion. I do hope we get a chance to maybe see him play a little further up next season but there will be loads of competition for that spot on the right which ever formation we run.

      I do agree with you that Kawulok is an excellent option as we move forward. I’m interested to see how much progress since I’ve seen him play last (…which at this point feels like forever) but I was impressed with his size, speed, and calm demeanor. I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t see more of him through the final third of the 2012 season, so here’s to next year!

      1. Postjono,

        Sorry…the Internet doesn’t express sarcasm well! I was just joking about Zizzo as a right back…GW had placed him there a few times towards the end of the season & I just shrugged my shoulders in disbelief! I don’t think he’s a right back, right wing is a much better spot for him. That part of my post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek! Sorry if it didn’t come across that way! 🙂

        I am hopeful for 2013. And, I most definitely agree with you on all of your assessment of Kawulok. He just seemed so natural & confident playing at right back. He could get forward to help on offense, get his crosses in & then would get back on defense. Sure do hope they (GW & CP) can see what we both saw & he gets more time in 2013!

      2. Ha! Shame on me! Sarcasm is much more fun onliine though…probably because of gullible people like me!

        But seriously shame on GW for putting poor Zizzo back there.

  2. Here’s an idea to bounce off everyone: So’ongo as a striker. I may be insane, but maybe he would work. After all, he loves going straight at the goal. He’s a somewhat hesitant server. Maybe his best role would be scoring. What do you guys say?

    By the way… am I the only guy who doesn’t like this “newest comments at the top” thing? It’s one of the only things about the new website I don’t like. I get chronologically lost. Not uncommon for me…

    1. Interesting…

      I guess my only hesitation about trying this (in the imaginary world where I’m Porter’s replacement) is that Franck seems to do well when he gets plenty of touches. He’s not really a “tee it up and shoot” kind of guy, and in this league backs will knock you down if you give them a chance – look how often Nagbe tends to get knocked off the ball.

      But, of course, the other issue is that we already have TONS of forwards. I can’t see Franck being better used there than in our already-anemic midfield attack…

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