Today is the last day of June which means tomorrow is the official opening of the International Transfer Window (ITW). While the ITW isn't required to make trades between other MLS teams as we saw with Danny Mwanga and Mike Fucito, most teams typically wait until about this time to make all their big moves, especially if they are planning on using the ITW to bring in a big international player as that usually means they have to move their respective squads around.
So, with that said, myself, Will and Ryan sat down and hashed out a bit of what we think the Portland Timbers need to bring in during the month of July if they have any hopes of making the play offs.
Honestly, it boils down to two positions for me. The center attacking midfielder position and the right back position.
For the former, it's a known dilemma that the Timbers are struggling to create chances, the Seattle Sounders game notwithstanding. This is because there just isn't anything stemming from the central midfield. Darlington Nagbe is simply not as effective as we all had hoped in that position. The Timbers need to go out and find a Graham Zusi, Marco Pappa, Davide Chiumiento, or Martin Rivero. Not that any of those players would be available, but if they could land one, it would be great.The right back position is all about depth. Right now we have Jack Jewsbury > Steve Purdy > Ryan Kawulok. While Jewsbury is serviceable, I start to get worried if the others were to take over the position. No offense to either.
Portland has a lot of pieces already in place and we are finally seeing the team gel offensively but it still feels like there is one piece missing from line-up to make the offense really click. The one piece that is missing is a CM that will create more through the center of the pitch and not just in the wings. While the play on the wings has improved over the last two games the play through the center of the pitch has not. Nagbe has been great in keeping possession but has lacked the final piece in also finding Kris Boyd or Mike Fucito/Danny Mwanga in dangerous areas with direct balls to them.
Also with Kalif Alhassan's injury, one that seems to be a recurring problem, this adds pressure on Nagbe to be the creative force in the midfield, either on the wings or in the center of the pitch. So with all that known or at least projected the Timbers should find a CM or another Wing player who can be creative. Someone who has more experience then Kalif but who is very similar would probably be the best bet
If I could make one line-up change to the Timbers, it would be to create space for Jose Adolfo Valencia and activate him from the injury reserve list (which I think is where he ended up, not the season ending injury list). Valencia has been spotted more and more often at Timbers practices and, with over half the season to go, he still has the opportunity to play by the end of this year. Maybe he won't be ready to play a big role for the first team, but just getting him out on the field in front of Timbers fans would be a triumph. It would likely be Bright Dike making way for the young Colombian but, as much as I love Dike, getting Valencia further integrated and actually playing with this team by the end of the season will bode very well for the future.
So there you have it! I would look for a CAM and a right back for added depth. Ryan really wants to focus on either a creative central midfielder or another Alhassan-like player. And Will just wants to make space for Valencia.
What do you think the Timbers should do during transfer season?