Final Grades: Forwards Edition

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 20: Jorge Perlaza #15 of the Portland Timbers celebrates after scoring a goal during the first half of the game against Vancouver FC at Jeld-Wen Field on August 20, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

The Portland Timbers offense started out red hot, rattling off consecutive four goal games in the team's first two home fixtures before beginning to struggle down the stretch.

Here is part three of our final grades for the Timbers. Part 1, the midfielders, is here and part 2, the defenders, is here. We are taking a look at each players stats and overall performance this season for their grade.

Jorge Perlaza: C+

Throughout the season Jorge showed off his blazing speed, making runs that torched defenders and getting in behind defenses. Unfortunately, only one such run actually resulted in a goal. It was a great goal against Chicago, but it was the only one that he scored using his speed. Most of his goals were headers or poacher’s goals and we will take them, but they are not sufficient for a top level forward.

The beautiful blazing runs are emblematic of the problem with Perlaza’s game. Often ill timed and resulting in an offside flag being shown, Perlaza’s runs just never synced up with the rest of the team. The same can be said about the rest of his game. Not having displayed a terrific passing ability, a player like Perlaza needs to be able to contribute in other ways. Making runs that draw defenders out of position and stretch the defence to create openings for others is key but this just did not happen this season when Jorge was on the field.

More after the jump.

 

 

Kenny Cooper: B-

Kenny Cooper has a nose for the goal. That quality is, of course, tempered by his tendency to fall down or get caught offside or play a pass that is just a little bit off target. Coming into the season, everyone expected Cooper to be the Timbers leading scorer and, although it looked like it would not happen, in the end he managed to turn things around. In my book, leading the team in goals scored counts for a lot.  Cooper was also the Timbers leader in shots and shot on goal.  Somewhat surprisingly, Cooper had more shots on goal than the rest of the Timbers forwards combined. Unsurprisingly, Cooper also had the worst conversion rate of the Timbers who scored with the exception of Nagbe.

Bright Dike:C+

One goal in nine games is not great production, but, like most of the Timbers, Bright was hampered by injury. By the end of the season, however, Dike was getting his groove back. A physically imposing player, Dike’s contributions toward the end of the season were more than just about scoring goals, they were about creating havoc along the opposing team’s back line.

Dike still has a ways to go before he can be considered a top level talent, but his contributions were certainly felt and felt in particular by anyone who went into a 50/50 challenge with him.Perhaps most in need of improvement for Dike is his touch.  He only had four shots on goal this season, thanks largely to some heavy touches that allowed the ball to get away from him, but if he can reign that in Dike could be a great threat up top in the future.

Darlington Nagbe: B

When lined up as a forward, Nagbe only scored one goal. Overall he had two goals from 30 shots, the fifth most on the team.  He came close a number of times, including several chances that were cleared off the goal line, but he never really got his scoring touch going in his first year in Major League Soccer.

However, despite his lack of production, when Nagbe was on the field he just made his teammates look better. More than any other player that saw minutes at forward for the Timbers this year, Nagbe has the ability to control the ball and play a good pass to a teammate. Hopefully next season we will see him add some scoring to his already impressive repertoire.

Eddie Johnson: B-

Eddie Johnson spent much of his career to date playing as an attacking midfielder and it shows. Thanks to his solid build and stature, many expect him to play as a target forward, when in reality he plays much like like Kenny Cooper, preferring to have the ball at his feet. Unlike Cooper, Johnson seemed to be a good distributor of the ball and if, again like Cooper, he left his feet a little more easily than we would have liked there was still an obvious quality to his play.

One goal in seven games, even if they were mostly substitutions, is not a great haul. It is a shame that Johnson’s season was cut short by two quick concussions, as he seemed to be starting to develop a partnership with his fellow forwards. Johnson’s contributions this year were positive ones and now that he has recovered enough to resume training I have high hopes for his renewed contribution to the team next year.

Brian Umony: C

Umony spent most of his time on the wing this year. He showed well in practice but never quite was able to work his way onto the field at forward on game day. In his appearances in the Timbers final few games, Umony was shifted toward a forward position despite nominally being on the wing. He provided a memorable assist against Salt Lake after missing an opportunity for another against D.C. The rest of his season was fairly anonymous, which would be great for a defensive midfielder but is not really what one looks for in a forward.

Spencer Thompson: Incomplete

Thanks to Thompson’s season ending knee injury early in the summer, we never got much of a chance to see him in action. Early in the season John Spencer said that he believed that Thompson could be a leading scorer in the reserve league and after scoring two goals in the Timbers’ first reserve game this looked like it could be a distinct possibility. Another young forward developed by Spencer in the reserves was Chris Wondolowski while the two were at Houston, so hopefully Thompson will bounce back well.

Overall: C+

The Timbers were not the worst attack in the league but they distinctly lacked the killer edge.  With ten goals coming from the midfield and ten from the defense, the forwards were only able to account for a sum of 17.  The Timbers will need increased production from them next year.  Job one for the Timbers will be to increase the team's conversion rate as they had the eighth most shots in the league but only the 14th most goals.

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