As the transfer window creeps ever nearer, many fans and blogs are beginning to speculate on who will transfer in and who will be let go, or traded elsewhere. Given the Portland Timbers recent run of bad luck, I'm inclined to join in. Something is not right with the team and, as such, we'll probably see at least a couple trades during the transfer window.
Before I begin speculating please note that these aren't rumors, or hints at what may come. At this moment in time I have no insider knowledge of who will be going where or if anybody will be brought in. This is just speculation and I encourage you to do your own speculating in the comments. It's fun, I promise!
Mystery Trips to Germany
Some of you will remember a few months ago there was a report that Gavin Wilkinson had visited Germany for an unknown reason. At the time everybody thought that whatever player the Timbers were eying would turn out to be the mystery Designated Player that was wildly rumored late last year, a player that turned out to be Diego Chara (who is only a DP due to his transfer fee).
Shortly there after, nobody really spoke much of the trip. Honestly, there's not too much weight behind it as Gavin could have just been going to do some preliminary scouting. Still it's fun to speculate a little bit, so let's take a look at who this mystery Bundesliga player could be.The most exciting and, entirely unrealistic, player would probably be Michael Ballack, the former Chelsea and German national team captain. Now, the former captain still has another year on the Bayer Leverkusen contract, but as we saw last year with Thierry Henry, sometimes clubs are willing to let aging veterans depart if they're not of much use at the top flight and are drawing too large of a paycheck. As much as I'd love to dream of a Ballack lead midfield, however, it's not really Portland's style to go big. As such, this is entirely wishful thinking.
Moving on here are some other Bundesliga players that could be on the Timbers radar. All of which are off contract for the summer.
- Marcel Heller - A young midfielder/winger whose played Eintracht Frankfurt since 2007. Would seemingly fit into the Timbers play style and youth mentality. Currently out of contract with Frankfurt.
- Julian Schuster - Another young midfielder who's spent the maojrity of his time with SC Freiburg. Schuster seems to have a better grasp on scoring, contributing 8 goals in 54 appearances for his team.
- Florian Lechner - A right back defender. He's older than the other Timbers players at 30, but he does fill the position that Kerrea Gilbert was to take, arguably one of the weakest positions at the moment.
There are others, of course, but really this is just speculation. If you're looking for a fairly up to date Bundesliga out-of-contract player list, Goal.com has created a nice one. Just keep in mind that this was created in January so some, like Miroslav Klose, have already found new homes.
Oh and if you're curious to know why I've only speculated on out of contract players, it's because I really don't believe the Timbers will pay two transfer fees in a single season.
A Matter of Depth
Of course, mystery Bundesliga player aside, many of the summer's transfers might not be all that exciting for most people. In fact, my best bet is that the Timbers won't be looking to replace any of the first teams spots right away but will, instead, be looking to add depth to the bench.
Looking at the current bench there are only two players I've confident in at the moment: David Horst and Sal Zizzo. Eddie Johnson, Ryan Pore, Adin Brown/Jake Gleeson, James Marcelin, and Adam Moffat are not players I feel the Timbers can rely heavily on, especially for the last 20-ish minutes if there's a dire need of a goal, as we saw when Ryan Pore took the stage last Saturday.
Looking around MLS a little bit there are quite a few players I could see taking one of those many substitution spots:
Mehdi Ballouchy - Inconsistent but creative and not often used in 2011.
- Tristan Bowen - A Galaxy academy player who was traded to Chivas USA. He's very young, but, as we saw with the Galaxy last year, he is able to score and he has that killer instinct.
- Ned Grabavoy - Somewhat of a super sub for RSL, he's been getting regular minutes since Javier Morales got injured. Still, he was wildly speculated to be a pick for the Timbers expansion draft last year and I think he would make for an excellent sub, and maybe even first teamer.
Just to name a few... It's important, when thinking about making that play-off push/run to look at the depth of squad. being a substitute might not be the most glamorous position for many players, but sometimes that burst of energy and technical skill could be the difference between winning and losing. With the current bench the Timbers tend to lose.
Trading/Releasing Timbers Players
Finally, we come to the Portland Timbers themselves. I wouldn't be surprised to see some movement where a few current Timbers players are either traded away, loaned out, or simply let go entirely. Some players have out performed out expectations (Futty, Jack Jewsbury) while others have squandered the chances they were given (Kevin Goldthwaite, Ryan Pore).
It's tough for me to, personally, admit it, but some of these guys simply don't belong on the Portland Timbers. Here's who I'd speculate will be on the chopping block this July:
- Kevin Goldthwaite - Honestly, he simply costs too much and has given too little. Granted he was put in a perilous situation at the beginning of the year and he might deserve another chance, I just don't know if Spencer should risk it at this time.
- Adin Brown - Injury prone, and, honestly, not MLS quality. He's too slow at this point. Whether that's from recovery from injury or not, I still thank the soccer gods everyday that Troy Perkins is healthy again.
- Brian Umony - Currently on loan, but he's not doing very much for the team. He was injured earlier in the season which probably hampered his progress a bit. I say let him go back to South Africa where he can get some meaningful minutes.
I bet you were expecting me to list Ryan Pore there given that I called him out just prior. No, I don't believe Ryan Pore should or will get transferred/let go this summer transfer window. Despite squandering some chances, he was still league MVP in 2010 where he was playing as a left midfielder. If you haven't yet noticed, Ryan has been playing as a forward since then. I'd like to see what he can do in that position again, possibly as a substitute.
So there's some transfer window speculation. It's still about a month away, but it's fun to look ahead and ponder what might be. What do you think? Who will the Timbers pursue? Who will they let go? Sound off below!