Portland Timbers 2012 Season Buy or Sell

I posed some statements to the other writers of Stumptown Footy and asked them to buy or sell the statement with a brief explanation. Here are our answers:

Kris Boyd will score 10+ goals this season.

Andrew:

Sell. I've held this opinion close to my chest. I want to believe that Boyd is going to be the goalscorer the Timbers organization has cast their lot in, but to me there are still just a few too many questions. Will he be coachable, will he get along with his teammates, can he still produce like he did in the SPL? Goals are fickle things, they're unpredictable, and even the best players in the world can't will the ball into the goal. A lot has to go right to score a goal, and right now, there are too many things that could go wrong.

William:

Buy. Kris Boyd has the talent to bag some goals in MLS. With a more consistent Kalif Alhassan to provide service, healthy Jorge Perlaza to stretch the defense, and Diego Chara free to get forward, Boyd will have ample opportunities that he will put away nicely. That being said, players often struggle in their first season in MLS and I don't see Boyd being any different. I am going to predict 12 goals for Boyd this season.

Ryan:

Buy. Boyd's goal scoring tally will have very little to do with whether or not he can put the ball in the back of the net as he has proven he can. How many goals he gets will be heavily influenced by the improvement of the service Portland can provide with balls into the penalty area. I firmly believe Portland has upgraded, or will with the signing of Songo'o, or improved (Nagbe) on the wings and because of this Boyd can and will score more than 10 goals this year.

More after the jump

Kalif Alhassan will score 5 goals or more this season.

Andrew:

Sell. So far in training I've seen a lot of the same stuff from Kalif -- great crossing, great ball control, speed -- but for all the individual ability that he has, he doesn't combine with his teammates in ways that get himself in position to score. I think he will score a lot of assists in 2012, and I hope he scores a few goals, but I'm not expecting him to score five, especially considering the depth in the squad may limit him to fewer minutes than he had in 2011.

William:

Sell. Will Kalif score a goal this season? Yes (God I hope so). Will he score five? Nope. I just have not seen anything to make me think that he has taken a step forward from last year. I think he will put up plenty of assists, but the goals will continue to elude him until he can figure out how to put himself in more dangerous positions and stop taking chip shots at the far corner.

Ryan:

Sell. Judging by the signings Portland has completed and by the trialists they have brought in Portland is looking to upgrade on the wings. If Portland signs Song'o, still a big if, then Kalif will only see the playing field as a sub and only for spot minutes. Being on the bench will be a test for a young player but one that may cause him to work harder and become even better then he is now.

Captain Jack will once again lead the team in points.

Andrew:

Sell. Captain Jack led the team in points in 2011 because he carried the team for the first several months of the season. He will not need to carry the team ever again. He will play his game well in 2012 and lead the team as captain, but I expect others to lead the team statistically.

William:

Sell. Spending more of the season in a defensive position while Chara is given license to get forward is going to limit the number of goals and assists that Captain Jack finds himself a part of. The possibility of Franck Songo'o taking over some free kick duties will also limit Jack's assists.

Ryan:

Sell. Portland's over-reliance on set-pieces to generate offense during the first half the season is where Captain Jack earned most of his assists and goals. This will become more and more sparse as Portland has signed a PK specialist in Boyd and have other players taking set-pieces. Captain Jack will influence the team in other ways which will be harder to quantify but will be more essential to the long term success of this team and making the play-offs.

The Outside midfielders will combine for 10+ goal this season.

Andrew:

Buy. Assuming Songo'o will be added to the roster and Zizzo will come back healthy (and especially if Davids is also added at some point this year), the competition for the starting outside midfield spots will be significantly more fierce in 2012. Among all the players competing for those positions, I believe they will score 10 goals easily.

William:

Sell. Kalif Alhassan, Sal Zizzo, Franck Songo'o, Eric Alexander, Darlington Nagbe, and Rodney Wallace have a combined 14 career goals in 20 seasons of first team games. While I think a number of these guys will take a serious step forward this year, I don't see the Timbers scoring more than a handful of goals from the wings.

Ryan:

Buy. If Portland is to complete actually make the playoffs they need three things to happen and this is one of those. Darlington Nagbe will build on his 2 goals and Eric Alexander will get more playing time in the coming year and these two have a better ability to get into dangerous positions to either score or create for other players.

Troy Perkins will have double digit shutouts this year.

Andrew:

Buy. The Timbers had nine shutouts in MLS competition in 2011, and that's counting the first half of the season during which the team's defense was one of the worst in the league. If the first half Timbers had been as good as the second half, Perkins would have had double digit clean sheets in 2011. Barring injuries, he will certainly have ten or more in 2012.

William:

Buy. The Timbers defense looks stronger than it did this time last year both in terms of depth and starters. Add in the Timber's goals against average of 1.06 in the second half of the season and you have the possibility of plenty of shutouts this season.

Ryan:

Buy: Portland's defensive struggles during the first half of the season last year put a lot of pressure on Troy to make multiple big saves a game. However the second half of the year Perkins only needed to come up with one, maybe two, good saves to keep Portland in the game or ahead. The first few games of the season will again test Troy as the defense will still be looking to gel but for the rest of the year Portland will be as good defensively as they were the last 13 games of last year.

Portland will make the playoffs this year.

Andrew:

Buy. Come on. I'm not going to bet against the Green and White. If I'm going to be completely honest, I don't have any confidence at all that the Timbers will be able to climb the Western conference table any higher than they did in 2012, considering how much improved many of the Timbers' competitors have become in the offseason. But bet against the Rose City? Never.

William:

Buy. They were close last year and I firmly believe that the team has upgraded both it's defense and attack in the off season. The Timbers' opponents have upgraded as well, and the Timbers are facing one of the league's harder schedules, but the Potential is there to make a run at the MLS Cup.

Ryan:

Buy. This is probably the toughest one for me to say buy to. I look at the west and I see talented teams all with the possibility of making the playoffs. Portland has to be one of the top 5 teams. As of right now these are the top teams in the West: LA Galaxy, Seattle (I hate putting them here), RSL, FC Dallas, Portland, Colorado. Vancouver has improved and Chivas could surprise a lot of people. In the end I think Portland has improved in the right areas and teams like Colorado and Dallas are descending rather than ascending.

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