I am a West Bromwich Albion fan. Yes, I support a team that plays in the crappiest part of England, constantly fights in relegation battles, and sells players who were deemed not good enough and eventually flourish at other clubs.
So, I've seen my fair share of Liam Ridgewell playing on Saturdays. I can tell you that he isn't anything special, at all. Really. Better than pretty much anything we have now, I assure you. But this anticipation for man who is supposed to change our defense into a solid one is only going to lead to disappointment.
1. The MLS is nothing like the EPL
It is a pretty non-debatable statement, and the reason why I refuse to compare the two leagues. Attackers are physically stronger and faster (something Mikael Silvestre said to me), and he will be facing players whom he has never faced or even heard of before. Additionally, I'm pretty sure the man has never played on turf before. We've been through that adventure before with Silvestre, which is why I really don't want him to debut on Sunday.
This website pretty much says it all. Most notably though, the injury on April 21, 2014. (an MCL ligament injury). This knee problem kept him out the rest of the year, and definitely is not something to aggravate again. Even with rehab and the fact that he may be match fit, it takes awhile to gain confidence back in that knee. As previously mentioned, the turf may even make that worse.
3. Off the field antics/ fan support
Let's just say that the man knows how to spend a Saturday night. (If you follow him on Twitter you can see it.) Forgetting the old "a$$ rub" moment, Ridgewell has always been viewed by WBA supporters as an absolute plank. Hence, there was no real outcry or even sadness that he was released. Occasionally, he says stupid things. Sometimes to fans, players, coaches, etc., which could mean he could turn to villain at any point in his tenure with the Timbers. Such a problem could lead to a lack of chemistry and other problems within a locker room that seems to be pretty tight at the moment. (IMO.)
Yet as much of a pessimist as I am, I have to admit there are ways in which I believe he can help.
1. Aerial challenges
Liam Ridgewell has always been good in the air. Physically, he is strong and won't take sh*t from Steven Lenhart or anyone. If Stevie throws an elbow, Liam will too, and do it in a much slier and punishing way. But other than that, he has never been afraid to put his body on the line, which is why I am worried that injuries may affect him negatively in that department.
2. "Pride in defense"
Caleb Porter mentioned that he wanted "pride in defense", and Ridgy will bring that. Forget for a moment that WBA had a really leaky backline last season. Angle wise, technique wise, and certainly courage wise, Ridgewell knows his sh*t. In addition, his not afraid to scream at others to make sure that they're in the right place, even Will Johnson. (Leadership is not a problem for him, I believe he was handed the captain's armband at Birmingham City at one point).
All in all, he seems like a genuinely funny dude. When he's not wiping his arse with money, he cracks jokes and seems like he could fit into the locker room if he doesn't say anything to stupid.
I'm as hopeful as the rest that this works out for us, but we need to drop the hopes and expectations tenfold.