Portland Timbers Player Rankings #9: Kalif Alhassan

Steve Dykes

#9 on our list knows how to light up a crowd , but needs to show more consistency.

Kalif Alhassan made a fairly smooth transition to MLS from his days with the USL Timbers, trailing only Jack Jewsbury in assists in 2011, and looked poised for a bigger, better year when he started 2012 with a bang. In the home opener against the Philadelphia Union, he assisted Kris Boyd's game-winning goal before providing the icing on the cake, the "Was it a shot? Was it a cross?" goal that left the Union defense and Zac MacMath stumped until it was in the back of the net.

Unfortunately, that was about it for Alhassan last season. He was plagued with injuries; first there was a groin injury, later a knee injury. His inability to stay healthy kept him off the field for long stretches at a time, and after his bright start Alhassan recorded only one more assist in 2012. It's only fair to note that two assists was still enough to earn him a place among the Timbers top five assist leaders, but it's surely less than what Alhassan should have achieved in 2012.

Alhassan is probably one of the Timber's most technically gifted players, with the capacity to dance through defenders and an uncanny ability to dispossess an opponent without ever seeming to touch him. However, in addition to being sidelined with injuries for so much of the season, Alhassan was criticized by John Spencer for his poor work ethic. Altogether he appeared in only 16 games, half as many as 2011, and started only 10, and was unable to make a significant impact in 2012.

Should he stay?

Yes, but next season should be his last chance. His fancy footwork and the odd assist aren't enough if he's not able to consistently play well. His brilliance on his good days suggests that Alhassan absolutely has the skills to be an MLS starter, but it's time for him to step up and prove he has the drive.

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