Yes, yes, I know the start of the 2013 season isn't for another 5 1/2 months. Considering that the Timber's have virtually nothing left to play for this season (other than a dwindling hope of winning the Cascadia Cup), why not go ahead and look forward to next season.
First, an analysis of the current season.
The biggest, fattest, glaring punctuation mark on the 2012 season is how god awful this team is on the road. At home, we are a respectable 7-4-4 (7 wins/4 losses/4 ties). That's not outstanding, but it's not bad either. Considering that three of those losses came after the ensuing chaos of firing Spencer, and another was the dreadful Salt Lake game in which the team allowed two goals in the final five minutes, the home record is actually quite respectable.
No news here.
How does anyone begin to explain how bad, bad, bad this team is on the road? 0-10-3 (0 wins/10 losses/3 ties).
Their goal difference at home is plus three goals.
Their goal difference on the road is negative twenty two.
It doesn't matter who is coaching... this team cannot win on the road. And, for those of you holding out for a Cascadia Cup... we've got Seattle AND Vancouver on the road.
Good luck with that.
If I'm Caleb Porter, how do I analyze that? If I go by the home record, the team is very respectable and, really, wholesale changes are not needed... just a bit more maturity.
If I go by the away record, then sack the entire team and start over.
Let's start with the forwards.
Kris Boyd: As we know, is either gone or is going to be the most expensive bench warmer in the MLS. He doesn't fit into Porter's style of play.With another year on his contract, they'll most likely need to find a team in the English or Scottish league that is willing to take on his salary.
Bright Dike: Shown loads of promise in the last few games, but can he be a consistent threat up top and score 15 - 20 goals? He doesn't create chances on his own and relies very much on service. Deadly in the air but not the best foot skills. At 57k, he's a bargain. He's staying.
Valencia: Saw his first action in Sunday's reserve game. He will fit into Portland's game plan next season. Huge chance on Valencia as he's taking up a DP spot. Am I not understanding something? His salary for 2012 was 44k, why pay that to a DP?
Danny Mwanga: Local boy, but I think he's on his way out. He's not getting any PT. His salary is $356k... what? Gone.
Mike Fucito: Gone.
Brent Richards: Athletic, but didn't do much when given the change. Probably more of a mid-fielder. I would imagine he would be given another chance, but, $70k is expensive for a guy who rarely sees the pitch.
Diego Chara: Tough one. Some people love Chara and some people think he's way overrated. I still can't figure why he's a DP if he's only making $197 a year? He's grown a lot on me and he's all over the field... I just wish he was more dangerous up top. He's staying.
Franck Songo'o: If anyone has been a revelation this season, it's been Songo'o. He is providing loads of pace down the sideline and putting pressure on the opposing defense. He's a bargain at $80k a year.He's also a savvy veteran who was in Barcelona's youth system.
Sal Zizzo: He was eating up the Seattle defense. He's a speedster down the sidelines. If he can improve his touch with his in-bounds passing, then he could be an all-star. At 80k, his salary is great.
Kalif Alhassan: Very injury prone and an inconsistent player. When his game is on, he's damn creative and fun to watch. When it's off, he's a poor man's Freddie Adu. I like the idea of trying him out as an offensive center mid-fielder. At 80k, he might be a bit too expensive given how often he's injured. He's staying
Darlington Nagbe: The new face of the Timber's franchise. I'd much rather see him playing up top as a forward and I think Porter will play him in that position.He's making $225 and needs to be much more consistent.
Jack Jewsbury: OK, here's where it gets interesting. I love Jack's competitive nature and he's a smart veteran. But, his style isn't suited to Porter's attacking style. He's much better in Spencer's offense. And, for $189k, I'd like to see a more dangerous player. I think he's gone.
Rodney Wallace: At 159k, he's too expensive. He's gone.
Eric Alexander: His salary at 56k fits and he can be dangerous. Why not have him stick around.
Lovel Palmer: The best think about Palmer is his versatility and he's able to play defensive center mid-field, winger, and either back positions. At 94k, he's a bit pricey. I'd love to see more of a competitive fire out of him. I think he's gone.
David Horst: I'm not a Horst fan, but, for unknown reasons, GW really likes him. He's just not athletic enough for me and makes way too many mistakes. He's probably staying.
Futty Danso: No idea why he's not starting. Does anyone know? I like him, but, apparently, GW does not. Gone. 82k isn't a bad salary. But, he's gone.
Hanyer Mosquera: Rock in the middle. He's staying.
Kosuke Kimura: A nice competitor, but he gives up way too many goals. Timber's will be looking for a new right back (or, perhaps, they should look at Jewsbury again). Gone.
Steve Smith: A guy who has really redeemed himself over the past few weeks. I like Smith. For a few games, every team was picking on him, but he's weathered the storm and looks like a good pick-up.120k is pricey, but I love him on the counter attack. He's staying.
Eric Brunner: Not sure. If he's back from his concussion, then they'll likely keep him. For $100k, he needs to be starting.
Steve Purdy: Gone.
Ian Hogg and Andrew Jean Baptiste: Two young guns who will be given more time.
Jake Gleeson: Next in line for the starting keeper position.
Donovan Rickets: I think he's here for one more reason and then it's Gleeson's turn.At 275k, he's pricey, however, never go cheap on a keeper.
Joe Bendik: We'll see how good he is over the next two games.
Who the hell knows? A case could be made for simply keep the entire team intact and allow them to grow. It's obvious the front office is behind a youth movement and wants to grow the likes of Nagbe, Valencia, Zizzo, Richards, Gleeson, Hogg, Chara, and Alhassan as the future. I can live with that.
I think right back must be addressed. Kimura just isn't the answer.
They desperately need an attacking center mid-fielder. I really like the idea of moving Nagbe up to forward and getting a true center mid-fielder.This, in my opinion, is the most important need that must be addressed in the off season.
Dike and Valencia are going to be given the opportunity to prove themselves at the forward position. I'm not sold on either of them as a forward that can produce 15 - 20 goals a season.
As stated earlier, why are Valencia and Chara designated players given their respective salaries? Isn't the entire purpose of the DP the ability to afford a massively expensive player (see Boyd, Kris).
Already heard they are planning on lengthening the field for more space. Cool.
Does anyone have a reason why they play on turf? I've heard it's because of overuse with the Portland State football team that would destroy a grass field. I've also heard that grass won't grow at Jeld-Wen (huh?). Does anyone know?