Portland Timbers Player Rankings #12: Eric Alexander

Jonathan Ferrey

Eric Alexander led the Timbers in assists this year, but never cemented a spot in the starting XI.

When the Timbers acquired midfielder Eric Alexander from Dallas late in the 2011 season, it wasn't clear to a lot of fans exactly why the trade had been made. Mostly appearing as a sub during the end of the season, Alexander didn't make a big impression.

2012 started off well for Eric Alexander, as he started the first six games of the season and had three assists in that time, including both assists on Nagbe's brace against Real Salt Lake, in what turned out to be an otherwise disastrous game.

After a respectable start to the season, however, Alexander was relegated mostly to the bench, starting occasionally but mostly coming in as a late sub or not playing at all. Comments from John Spencer at the time suggested that he felt Alexander was one of the players who wasn't making the most of the opportunities he'd been given. Alexander's play certainly had been inconsistent during the beginning of the season, but his good games were so good that many observers were still surprised to see him getting so much less playing time.

Except for a string of five starts in July, Alexander failed to find a regular role under either Timbers coach for the remainder of the season. In spite of that, Alexander notched three more assists, finishing the season as the team's leader in that category.

Should he stay?

Yes. Eric Alexander finished the season with one more assist than Franck Songo'o and two more than Sal Zizzo and Jack Jewsbury, the three teammates immediately behind him in that stat, in spite of playing fewer minutes than any of them. The passing matrix Ryan posted recently also shows his passing accuracy at about 83% which, while not good for a Barcelona player, is good relative to the rest of this team. That speaks to the quality of play that he can show. He didn't consistently play and that level and it would be a problem if Spencer's allusions to a problem of work ethic proved to be true, but it seems odd to single him out in such an inconsistent, up and down season. Alexander has done enough to deserve serious consideration from Caleb Porter.

Dissenting opinion - Geoff

This was a hard dissent to make because I honestly like Eric Alexander and his style of play. I don't think he got enough time to prove himself under Wilkinson's tenure as interim coach. That said, I'm coming at this from a pure value point of view. What will Alexander's place in the 2013 squad be? If he's just going to be a midfield back-up to be used sparingly then do both him and the Timbers a service by trading him to a team that can use him while getting some allocation money/what-have-yous in return. I personally don't see where he fits in next year, hence my opinion that he should be traded.

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