THESSALONIKI GREECE - FEBRUARY 15: Juan Carlos Toja of Aris (L) and Shaun Wright-Phillips of Manchester City in action during the first leg round of 32 UEFA Europa League match between Aris Saloniki and Manchester City at Kleanthis Vikelidis stadium on February 15 2011 in Thessaloniki Greece. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
With MLSSoccer.com reporting that the New England Revolution are planning on taking Juan Toja with their first pick in the current allocation order and that they are entertaining offers for the services of the Colombian play-maker, there has been talk around the Internet that the Timbers should make a play of their own. Of course, I can't imagine that the Revs are desperate for a brand new scapegoat in Lovel Palmer, so what could the Timbers give up to get a hold of Toja?
Toja will be picked by the Revolution tomorrow according to New England GM Michael Burns and the Timbers have plenty of bargaining chips to play. However, that begs the question, do the Timbers even need his services with the recent rise of Darlington Nagbe in the middle of the pitch? After the jump we will look at several possibilities that the Timbers could give up to bring Toja on board.
As it stands, New England are bursting at the gills with midfielders. The sudden trade of long-time captain Shalrie Joseph earlier in the month by the Revolution for another midfielder, Blair Gavin, was a head-scratcher and did nothing to alleviate the team's lack of options up top and at the back. Looking at New England's roster on MLSSoccer.com, the Revs have six players listed as defenders, six as forwards, and ten as midfielders, which leaves the team with only twenty five players total with the team's three keepers are added into the mix. For comparison, the Timbers are carrying ten defenders (eleven if you include the injured Chris Taylor), seven forwards (eight if you count Jose Adolfo Valencia), and eleven midfielders, with a total roster size of thirty players.
The Timbers wealth of options at all positions, while not exactly setting the world ablaze with their skill this season, certainly puts the team in a strong position to deal with New England. With New England's roster looking downright empty (I counted it about ten times and looked it up on several sites just to make sure I wasn't missing someone), the Timbers could provide the depth at both ends of the pitch that the Revs have been missing this season. Of the Timbers depth players, who could end up heading east?
1. Mike Fucito
A Harvard boy and Massachusetts native, Fucito is of a different mold from New England's current group of forwards and would add some variety to their forward line. Although Fucito has been getting minutes as a sub for the Timbers, the recent return of Bright Dike to the Timbers' line up does not bode well for the diminutive striker. Fucito is one player that I have long suspected was a favorite of John Spencer but may not be fitting in to the type of system that Gavin Wilkinson wants to run, which will also hurt his odds of sticking around.
2. Futty Danso
It seems like Danso has been on the outs with team management since taking the field against FC Dallas in the Timbers' infamous 5-0 loss earlier this year, a game in which Wilkinson called out some players for quitting on the game. Futty is a middle of the road back in MLS in terms of his skill, but he could step in and start for New England, most of whose center backs are converted defensive midfielders and would likely relish the chance to do so rather than languishing on the Timbers bench waiting for a chance to get back on the pitch.
3. Steve Purdy
The Timbers just don't seem to know what to do with Purdy. Regularly capped by, and wildly popular in, El Salvador, Purdy has the ability to be a starting MLS center back but is just not getting a chance in Portland. Purdy needs to go somewhere and get some regular playing time, and New England could be just the place.
Of course, the Timbers' depth players are not the only pieces that the team has to trade away. While it would almost certainly take something to sweeten the pot in order to prize Toja away from New England in exchange for one of the players above, the Timbers have other options.
4. The Timbers remaining first round draft pick
This draft pick is going to be a good one. If the season ended right now it would be the third pick (historically in MLS a more successful pick than going first, strangely) and would take a miracle for it to drop out of the first six. Draft picks are always a gamble, but this one should be worth top dollar and in concert with New England's own first round pick, which looks like it will be very high as well, would put New England in a very good position to bring in some young talent for the future.
5. Kris Boyd
Trading away your leading goal scorer mid-season? Not usually a sign that things are going well. However, recently Boyd has rarely looked a) interested or b) like he is in danger of scoring, particularly since the departure of Spencer, his friend and the man who convinced him to come to Portland. Boyd has looked increasingly like a loner in practice, stretching and running by himself or in the presence of his fellow Scot, Steven Smith, but rarely with the rest of the team. Add that to the fact that Boyd has not made the pitch in the Timbers last two games and it sure looks like he is on his way out.
Should the Timbers go for Toja? What should they give up for him? Share your opinion in the comments and poll below.
Should the Timbers try to pick up Juan Toja?
Yes. No matter what the cost. (17 votes)
Yes, but only if he is a steal. (47 votes)
Maybe. Wait and see if the new coach wants him. (75 votes)
No. We don't need him. (13 votes)
No. We don't need his haircut. (15 votes)
167 total votes