Despite playing in over half of the Portland Timbers' matches in 2013, his second year with the team, Andrew Jean-Baptiste was traded away last week for Jorge Villafana and the spot in the Re-Entry Draft that turned into Steve Zakuani.
2012 Rank: #17
Jean-Baptiste started out the year behind 2012 starters Hanyer Mosquera and David Horst, as well as more recent addition Mikael Silvestre. It looked like 2013 would be a repeat of his rookie year in 2012, when AJB made a handful of appearances before going on loan to the LA Blues. A rash of injuries and the departure of Mosquera, however, thrust AJB back into the starting line-up, where his physical play and fantastic stoppage time game-winner against the LA Galaxy made him an instant favorite.
Unfortunately, he never quite fit in with Caleb Porter's vision of what a defender should be, sometimes relying more on his physical prowess than on his brain. After Porter gave the starting job to Futty Danso it became clear that Porter preferred the calm and collected of Futty and that AJB would need more seasoning before stepping back into the team, something that AJB would not have a chance to get with the Timbers thanks to the team's more immediate needs in the off-season.
We were all pretty high on AJB's prospects for the future, and with the Timbers yet to announce their much touted defender signing, his loss leaves a big hole to be filled. It is disappointing that AJB will not get to continue to grow with the Timbers, but if Porter and Gavin Wilkinson can find defenders who better fit the team's system then the pain will certainly be blunted.