We all can agree that if one thing has held true over the long offseason for Portland, it's that have been a lot of moves. This year's edition of the Timbers, it's safe to say, is vastly different then the 2012 flavor. And that's only a good thing. No one can be sure yet whether 2013 will hold glory for the Timbers, but it certainly can't fall farther than 2012. We're starting to see what this team will look like, play like, and act like both on and off the field. Much has been written on the subject and much more will be written, just not here.s
Let's look at something a bit smaller. Who wears the Captain's armband on this new-look Timbers team? Jack Jewsbury has worn it well since the promotion of the Timbers to MLS in 2011. John Spencer had been quoted that Jewsbury would wear it until either he wasn't playing for the Timbers or Spencer wasn't coaching them anymore. Now the team has that new coach and that means Jack's spot isn't so solid. Let's look at some options.
He's the incumbent. He's worn the armband for two years. He is, by all accounts a great guy, a locker room asset, and a hard worker. In some situations, that's enough to be captain. This may not be one of them. The team is, as noted above, drastically different than the previous two years. Jack is currently injured and not expected to be match fit until at least the third or fourth week of the season. Above all else, the question remains, how much of the field will Captain Jack see this season? The Timbers' midfield is deeper, stronger, and more talented than ever before. Is Jack simply out of his depth?
Will Johnson came to the Timbers this off season from an incredibly strong Real Salt Lake side. He's a proven MLS veteran who knows first hand what it takes to win an MLS Cup. He's a strong player that is fully expected to play the maximum amount of minutes in Portland's revamped midfield. That midfield, more than any other part of the team, will likely make or break Portland's season. His grasp of English is no issue in communicating among the other players on the field. Will Johnson could step into the captain's role if offered with relatively little effort.
Ricketts came to the Timbers last season. He's been with the team a little longer than the new faces and knows what it takes to come up big in big games (just go ask the Mexican National Team). He's over thirty meaning that in football terms he's been there and done that. Ricketts could be the captain but for some concerns. He doesn't seem particularly vocal on the back line which seems like it should be a given for a guy between the pipes to get the band. There's also some concern that Milos Kocic could displace Ricketts as Porter's first choice keeper.
He's certainly loud. Horst has all the character qualities you'd want from your captain. He gets pumped up, works hard, and generally makes noise while he's on the field. Unfortunately, there are even more questions about the number of minutes Horst will get this season than Jewsbury. Horst is also currently out hurt, though his timetable for potential return seems to be somewhat shorter. The real issue here is the signing of Mikael Silvestre. The back four looked extremely shaky without him around and Horst has shown real trouble adapting to Porter's one-touch Tiki-Taka style of play.
These four are your front runners. Any one of them could get the 'band and it would be relatively unsurprising. But there are many other options. Try these on for size.
Diego Chara - He's worn it before in non-league games and other odd scenarios. His english seems to be the main issue here.
Darlington Nagbe - This has been tossed around some. He's young and inexperienced, but he is the face of the franchise.
Diego Valeri - Being named Diego or Johnson has to be part of the formula, right? In all seriousness, he's new, has relatively poor english, and is still getting acclimated. His skills alone are the reason he's on this list.
Bright Dike - This was an interesting idea before someone Dike Smashed his ACL.
Milos Kocic - If he can wrestle the starting keeper's job away from Ricketts his passion and volume at the back could do wonders as captain.
Now it's time to leave you all to think for yourselves. There's no right answer here, just a lot of questions. What do you think? Who's the right choice? Will anyone ever get a nickname that's a simultaneously cool and simple as "Captain Jack?"