As preseason training has begun and the off season moves are slowing down, some of the nagging questions about the Timbers (What about a right back? Exactly how many players do we have occupying DP spots?) have been answered. Some still remain, however. Did we really trade up in the allocation order for nothing? And a question we'll probably have the answer to a little bit sooner: who will be the Timbers' captain this season?
Unsurprisingly, when asked on the very first day of practice, Caleb Porter said that he had not made a decision about who would wear the armband. Here are players who may be, or should be, in the mix.
One has to think that the two-year captain of the Timbers will at least be taken into consideration for the job in 2013. Jewsbury began 2012 rather anonymously, but started showing up again at the end of the season and showing, as he so often did in 2011, a captain's knack for providing big moments when the team needed it, most notably with his Cascadia Cup-winning goal in Vancouver. Naming Jewsbury captain would also provide a shred of continuity for a team whose off season has been characterized by change.
The question looming over Jewsbury is how much time he'll find on the field, what with the midfield additions of Will Johnson and Diego Valeri. Porter has acknowledged that the team may have a club captain and someone who wears the armband in games if the captain isn't playing, so playing time may not affect Jewsbury's chances. He may be out of the running though if Porter prefers to have a regular starter as his captain.
One guy who can always be counted on to give 100 percent, Chara leads by example. He has previously been deemed worthy of filling in for Captain Jack, wearing the armband during the May 20th match against the Chicago Fire. His passing skills should make him a great fit in Caleb Porter's system, which will hopefully bring out his absolute best in the next couple years. With the effort he puts out in every single game, he could be a great leader on the field, someone who his teammates could look to for encouragement, although it's difficult to say if language skills would affect his ability to do the job.
Horst's name is one that has been tossed around in the comments when the captain debate comes up and he wore the armband in the final game of 2012. He's vocal, tough, and hardworking and definitely looks like a leader on the field. Like Chara, Horst always gives everything he has got and in that respect he sets an example for others to follow. Eric Brunner's concussion pushed Horst into a starting spot he didn't let go of for the rest of 2012 and he seems likely to be a regular in the starting XI this season as well. However, for all his heart, Horsts lacks some technical skills and soccer smarts, and if Andrew Jean-Baptiste impresses Porter or if the Timbers do sign Mikael Silvestre, Horst's hold on the starting spot could get a whole lot shakier.
Ricketts is a dark horse candidate, but he is the Timbers' most senior (or, shall we say, seasoned) player. The trade the brought him here is understood to have earned Porter's stamp of approval and was made in part due to his leadership qualities and the perception that Ricketts would be a strong mentor to the Timbers' younger goalkeepers. Like Jewsbury and Horst though, Ricketts could be facing some stiff competition for his spot in the starting XI.
Johnson was added to the Timbers roster at the very beginning of the off season, with Merritt Paulson citing his toughness and consistency, as well as his experience playing in the kind of system Porter wants to instate. If his time with Real Salt Lake is any indication, adding Johnson means the Timbers are gaining a talented and very physical player in the midfield, as well another guy who will never give any less than his all. Really, no team can have too many of those. In addition to all that, Johnson has come into preseason training with a great attitude, saying all the things Timbers fans want to hear in his interviews. If he can back those words up with actions, Johnson should be a leading candidate to wear the armband this season. He may be at a slight disadvantage, being new to the team, but with so many new players, it is hard to say if that really matters.
And there you have it, a few potential candidates. If it was up to you, who would be the Timbers captain in 2013?