Jack Jewsbury once again played an important role in the Portland Timbers' season. This year the Timbers' club captain stepped in as the teams' right back, a position that has plagued the club for years, and helped steady one of the league's more formidable defenses.
2012 Rank: 11
The arrival of Will Johnson in the center of the Timbers' midfield looked like it would relegate Jewsbury to the bench for the 2013 season after two years of being one of the Timbers' most reliable players. After the first month of the season, however, Jack had once again claimed a spot in the starting line-up as his own: right back.
Apart from a brief dalliance with the right back position in 2012, Jewsbury had always lined up as a defensive midfielder for the Timbers, so his move to the back four garnered its fair share of doubters. However, Jewsbury showed off his positioning and experience throughout the season, competing with everything MLS could throw at him and rarely being beaten.
Jewsbury's introduction into the back line reigned in the involvement of the Timbers' fullbacks in the attack as the team took a more defense-first approach for the remainder of the season, proving Caleb Porter's willingness to change things up and take a pragmatic approach to the game. As a result of his new position and his defensive responsibilities, Jewsbury registered lows in goals and assists for the Timbers with only a single regular season assist to his name this year. Despite that, Jack still showed that he could contribute to the attack with this post-season assist to pull a goal back against Real Salt Leg in the first leg of the Conference Final.
Forecasting just where Jewsbury will end up next season is difficult, particularly in light of the team's recent changes in personnel and the introduction of Jorge Villafana to the Timbers' line-up. As the Timbers increasingly look like they could switch back into a system that would see the fullbacks push further forward into the attack, Jewsbury looks less likely to retain the starting right back position.
Jewsbury has been one of the Timbers' keystone players; a guy who the team in built around even when he is not on the field. It is hard to imagine that Captain Jack will not leave his mark on the 2014 season, even if he does not have a starting spot . (Yesterday the Morrison Report touched on Jewsbury's contribution to the Timbers'. Check it out here.)