Just a heads up, this discussion concerning the team isn’t a serious reflection on the form of the players and team or a dissection of the effectiveness of the tactics, or whatever. This article is just capturing a discussion between my fellow fans and I where we tried to use the relatively trivial knowledge base we have as fans to try and extrapolate how our team would would fit into a certain fantastical situation. Namely, which roles would each player play if they were a part of the Rebel Alliance.
The premise started with the Clint Dempsey saga; after the league picked up the 9 million dollar transfer fee for Seattle, we used the opportunity to declare to a friend who happens to be a SSFC fan, that the Sounders had joined the Dark Side. But as fun as it was to make comments about the Sounders joining Darth Galaxy in the Sith, that train of thought really gave way to a much more entertaining conversation; if the sounders are the evil empire, than certainly, as their chief rival, that makes the Timbers the Rebel Alliance. I mean it’s only natural right? And with that premise, it immediately led to a logical analysis of what part the players would play if they were involved in that particular galactic struggle.
So without further ado, here is our list of which role the Timbers’ players would play if instead of fighting for the MLS Cup, they were fighting to save the galaxy from the dark side.
· Darlington Nagbe – This one was easy. As the young prodigy, who embodies the hope of the forces of good, Darlington Nagbe is Luke Skywalker. He started out as just a young, good team player, but there’s no denying this kid has the potential for greatness. He used to bulls-eye goals in his U-16 league back home, and if he can continue to complete his training, he will be a Jedi Knight, like his father before him.
· Diego Valeri – As the soldier of fortune (i.e. Designated Player) with a heart of gold, Diego Valeri is Han Solo. You have to admit, he kind of has that roguish look, and he does a masterful job of running the lanes to smuggle the ball in behind enemy lines. Also, when it comes down to it, he’s not afraid to do the dirty work on defense. Plus the next time you’re watching a slo-mo replay of a Valeri assist on a Nagbe goal, just see if you can imagine Valeri saying, "You’re all clear kid, now let’s blow this thing and go home!"
· Diego Chara – As a diminutive presence that is strong with the Force, Diego Chara is clearly Master Yoda. He’s been a central role player for the forces of good since the early (MLS) days, he speaks English a little funny, and his two syllable name, Chara, just rolls off the tongue similar to Yoda. Plus, when a degree of physicality is called for, Chara is a whirlwind of energy reminiscent of Yoda taking on Count Dooku. And did I mention he’s short?
· Andrew Jean-Baptiste – As the beastly presence in a central duo, Andrew Jean-Baptiste is Chewbacca. Just from his appearance, you get a sense that Jean-Baptiste abounds with physical capability. Like Chewy wookie-yelling during the Death Star jailbreak, Jean-Baptiste is prone to his own passion-fueled mistakes in the heat of the moment; but also like Chewy, that firebrand roughness belies a solid technical expertise. And despite the fact that he seems like a laid back guy in most of his personal interactions, you don’t want to piss him off because he might able to rip your arms out of your sockets.
· Ryan Johnson – As a flashy supporting role player with a reputation for hitting paydirt, Ryan Johnson is Lando Calrissian. He’s got a good work ethic, and is also known for being able to make those tough runs in order to hit the money. Although he may not be considered a central role player, he’s got a cult following among the fans, and if his teammates can handle the deflector shields, he can get in and land the shots that destroy Death Stars.
· Jack Jewsbury – As a player having a reputation as a consummate soldier, Jack Jewsbury is Wedge Antilles. This one may seem obscure to some, but trust me when I say it fits because Wedge was a verifiable badass. Jack Jewsbury was one of the MLS Timbers’ original aces, he’s a solid wingman, and his heroics in service of the team have cemented him a spot in fan lore. Plus, when you consider the whole Rose City red aspect, the nickname "Red Leader" seems like an apt parallel.
· Will Johnson – As a central leader who puts in the work and helps guide his younger teammates by example, Will Johnson is Obi Wan Kenobi. Just as Obi Wan ventured forth to enforce the will of the Jedi Council, so does Will Johnson enforce the discipline and tenets of Caleb Porter’s scheme on the pitch. And as Alan Gordon found out in the first Portland vs. San Jose match this year, if you try and cut him down he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
· Frederic Piquionne – As an old school pro who still has the swagger of a bona fide badass, Frederic Piquionne is Mace Windu. He wasn’t introduced to the Timbers until more recent episodes, but he’s quickly become a fan favorite. He’s played at what is widely considered the highest level in the world, and although later in his career, he’s still got the confidence and chops to hold his own against any foe.
· Michael Harrington – As a player key to defensive strategies, and someone who isn’t afraid to risk themself by being highly mobile, Michael Harrington is, and bear with me on this one, Princess Leia. Heh, it may seem a little goofy, but you’ve got to get past the gender opposition and realize that Leia is still a badass in her own right, and even though it wasn’t her main focus, she could still participate in offensive action when called upon. And really, the main factor in this one was the varying and notable hairstyles. Plus who knows, he may look stunning in a metal bikini.
· Rodney Wallace – As a guy who’s become a major contributor, calmly and impertinently defying opposing defenses, Rodney Wallace is R2-D2. He’s pulled off assists on par with stopping the garbage compactor in time, and he’s delivered goals as important as the Death Star schematics. And imagine this scenario: you’re going to be ritualistically executed at a crime kingpin’s party, and you need a buddy to sneak in undercover as a waiter and toss you a light saber at just the right time so you can fight your way free. Who’s got your back in that scenario? Rodney effing Wallace, that’s who.
· Kalif Alhassan – As a good supporting role player, who’s been around since the opening scenes of the Timbers MLS days, Kalif Alhassan is C-3PO. He’s got a shine to him thanks to his footwork (and jazz hands) and he does his best work when he’s linking up with teammates. But as important as he can be, sometimes he can come off as the comic relief.
· Donovan Ricketts – As the commander from the back lines, Donovan Ricketts is Admiral Ackbar. He’s a memorable presence who coordinates and commands the field in front of him. Plus, whether it’s his defenders pushing up a high line or an opponent making a breakaway, he’s on top of the traps.
And even thought not on the Timbers, there were a couple opponents that seemed to have fitting parallels;
· Kenny Cooper – A big guy who goes down at the earliest provocation, Kenny Cooper is Porkins. He was on our side early on, but most of his offensive opportunities went down like this. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGwYj4AqB6Q)
· Clint Dempsey – One good suggestion for Dempsey was Anakin Skywalker, or rather Darth Vadar. He’s an adept prodigy who was destined to bring balance to the American sports scene but, like the Jedi Council that warned of Anakin’s corruption, my buddy Bob, an Arsenal fan, has been warning of Dempsey’s corruption ever since he went to Tottenham in 2012. But upon reflection we decided a more apt parallel is Boba Fett. Highly skilled and all about the money. Plus it seemed to fit really well with our next one…
· Sigi Schmid – Yeah, Sigi Schmid is Jabba the Hutt. He’s the head piece to a powerful organization, dictating the strategy of his crew, and he utilizes the powerful network at his disposal, and possibly a little shadiness, to bring in personnel targets when he needs to. And really this one just kind of boils down to a fat joke.
So anyway, that’s all we’ve got. This was obviously an exercise in silliness but hopefully somebody will get a chuckle out of it. And hey, maybe you feel the roles should be different? Or maybe you've got ideas for guys we didn't include (Futty, Urruti etc.). Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.