Finn’s Five: Now The Real Work Begins, Part One

I’m going to cheat a bit this week and break up my Finn’s Five into two categories. The first five today are the 5 biggest outstanding questions I see as the season begins. Tomorrow, I’ll highlight the 5 best things we have going for us heading into Sunday’s match against the Red Bulls

1) Is our midfield big enough?

Kalif, Johnson, Chara, Valeri . While they have mental and physical toughness, and Will Johnson and Chara play bigger than they are, the simple fact is we have a small midfield. In the match against AIK the more physical and imposing Europa League players definitely won the physical battle in midfield. How will those four fare over a tough 34 game MLS schedule?

2) Who is our central starting pair and will they be able to handle the high line Porter’s system demands?

DTG and Andre Jean Baptiste acquitted themselves well in the preseason, especially when you consider they’ve only just started shaving on a daily basis, but they cannot be the answer over a 34 match season. I think our moves at central defense are far from over and don’t be surprised to see Futty, Horst AND Mosquera all gone by the summer. The test of our central defense starts this Sunday with a guy you may have heard of, Henry, coming to town.

3) Who plays if Valeri gets hurt?

Mwanga failed to flatter in his stint there. We watched Nagbe flounder all last year trying to be a #10 and the RodWall effort vs Dallas was cringeworthy. It’s not those three guys fault, they aren’t remotely in Valeri’s league and they aren’t #10’s. The only person on the roster right now capable of defense splitting passes in the Valeri model is Alhassan. He had a great pre-season but his consistency remains a serious concern.

4) Are our new outside backs really an upgrade?

I’m far from convinced theanswer to this question is “yes”.

5) Is Ryan Johnson really a #9 and can he produce over a season?

Nothing in
Ryan Johnson’s background suggests he is a double digit goal scorer in MLS. Like our central defenders I would not be surprised to see the Timbers make a mid-season push for a real forward*.

*Not that I’m always comparing the Timbers to the team from the fishing village up north (hat tip to 5MTKO for that moniker) but is there a #9 on our team that even remotely compares to their rumored acquisition of Obafemi Martins?

Check back tomorrow for what makes me excited for 2013.

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5 thoughts on “Finn’s Five: Now The Real Work Begins, Part One

  1. I’d say the biggest worry is at CB. I have no idea what’a happening, and we even still have a trialist that nobody knew would be in the 18 against AIK. By the way, I agree that our midfield looked small against them. I would, too, and I’m 6’2″ and 190. They were freaks.

    Also, what about the GK situation. I don’t have much faith in Ricketts, less in Gleeson, and I don’t know much about Kocic. Yikes.

  2. Harrington over Smith? Not an upgrade. Sorry to see Smith go.
    Miller over Kimura? I think so, but I never had any fondness for Kimura’s play whatsoever.

    If Harrington gets injured or suspended, we are in big trouble. He is going to be asked to play 90 minutes of every game, because we have no real backup on that side.

  3. Sorry… I have to call you out on this one:

    “Nothing in Ryan Johnson’s background suggests he is a double digit goal scorer in MLS.”

    Except that he scored 11 in 2009, and honestly… 7 last year with TFC, whose offense was absolutely atrocious and one of the few that was worse than ours, was an accomplishment, in my opinion. I really think (and hope) that having a play maker like Valeri (and how Valeri has seemingly affected the abilities of both Nagbe and Alhassan), along with having a guy like Trencito pushing him in the depth chart, Johnson will have a solid year ahead of him.

    1. Fair enough I missed that 11 tally in 09 but I stand by my point if you look at the totality of his career in MLS he’s scored 27 goals in 152 games of which he started 115. Over 7 MLS seasons that’s about 4 goals a season in games he started. That’s not a pure goal scorer. But I hope for our sake 13 looks like 09! http://www.mlssoccer.com/players/ryan-johnson

  4. I agree RJ could net double-digit goals but something tells me if you give those minutes to Trencito with his work rate, athleticism, and what appears to be an obsessive desire to score goals that he would provide more offense for the club.

    Injuries bother me to key players (WJ, Chara, Valeri, maybe Nagbe if recent play holds up.. maybe Sylverstre if he’s fast enough to keep up) but not to the others – we actually have some depth this year.. for once!

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