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?
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.