As we get closer and closer to January and thus closer to the international transfer window, I can't help but get excited at the possibilities of who we might sign. Unfortunately, the Timbers FO has remained tight lipped about who they are actively negotiating with leaving out any specific names. All we know is that he is a South American playing overseas as a midfielder. Yeah, that doesn't exactly narrow it down at all.
So instead of me trying to guess who it will be, or who I think it will be, it would just be more fun for me to put together a brief wish list of players I feel could come over to our team and really make an impact on day one. Keep in mind that I am neither speculating that they WILL come over, nor am I hinting at them as joining the club ever. These are just my wishful picks. Although, I'll try to keep them as realistic as possible, i.e. no Messis.
Call me a sucker for our national team, but I could not have been more impressed with Michael Bradley's work ethic over the course of the World Cup. He was constantly pushing, constantly fighting, and always found himself in the best possible places. Oh and let's not forget about that amazing goal he had against Slovenia that brought us back up to 2-2 and essentially saved us from being eliminated in the group stages.
I would honestly love it if he came back over to play. He's proven himself a capable starter at Bundesliga's Borussia Mönchengladbach, a team playing in the top flight of Germany. He is also pretty young at only 23. If this kid is getting starting minutes in Bundesliga that early, it's a fairly safe bet that he's going places in his future, something I certainly wouldn't mind Portland tagging onto.
The only negative with Bradley I can see is that he's still under contract until 2012, making his already slim possibility of transferring over even more slim. A man can dream though...
Alright, we've already discussed one USMNT player, why not move right on to the next? Those of you who watched out USA vs. Australia game just prior to the World Cup starting will remember Jose Torres coming in as a sub and really making a difference. Unfortunately, head coach Bradley didn't feel to use him very much during the rest of tournament often putting in Maurice Edu or Ricardo Clark, a mistake in my opinion.
Of course, what I really like about Jose Torres is just how damn creative he can be in the midfield. As Americans we don't really foster creative players. It's just not in our sports DNA coming from a century of rough and tumble sports filled with conflict and physicality. As such, our own soccer players tend to be far more physical than those produced in the likes of Brazil and Argentina (two nations that consistently produce the best players in the world). Torres, luckily for us, has developed into a fantastic creative player.
While I won't say he's a give in, I will say the chance that Torres will join the Timbers -- or MLS in general -- is fairly higher than that of Bradley. He's already gone on record as saying Pachuca (his current club) will allow him to leave if given another offer, and that he would be happy to entertain a contract with an MLS side. With that said, I'd consider him a legitimate target, although I hear murmurings that Houston might be far more interested than the Timbers.
Alright so bare with me on this one, but I honestly believe that we are going to need a solid veteran striker up top if we are looking to be dangerous at all. Not to downplay Bright Dike or Eddie Johnson, but they're both USL prospects and we absolutely shouldn't be relying on them to score as well as they have against USL defenders. Not to say they can't, just that we shouldn't.
With that said, I'm going to go against the grain a bit and say we should bring on somebody over the age of 30 in Adrian Mutu, the Romanian striker currently playing in Serie A (Italy's premiere soccer league). While I'm hesitant to believe our FO would invest in such a player I honestly think he could do very well for us here.
Despite being quite dramatic off the field (drug problems), Mutu has become a proven goal scorer for Fiorentina and his international team. In just 96 appearances for Fiorentina he has scored 55 times, or roughly 57% of the time. That certainly isn't bad when you're facing some of the strongest defensive backlines in the world, something Italy is all too famous for.
Also Adrian is rumored to be looking at prospects in Turkey, the Middle East, and MLS.
Chalk this one in the "never gonna happen" folder, but I would absolutely love it if we could get Tim Cahill to lead our attack from the midfield. He has proven, time and time again that he is a fantastic player for Everton of the English Premiere League, duly noted by him recently signing a new 4 year deal with the club last May despite being 31 years old.
The only thing that gives me a glimmer, and it's a very faint glimmer, of hope is that since Everton are struggling right now they may be heading into the international transfer window with the idea to rebuild. While Cahill is certainly a fantastic player he might be seen as too old, or unwanted baggage as he ages into 32 and beyond. I can't think of a better player to lead Portland.
That in mind, players do have a tendency to want to return home when they begin to retire. Being Australian, one has to wonder if Tim is looking back to the A-League as a place to end his career.
And those are my favorite picks. Realistic? Probably not, but they certainly would make a huge impact in our club. Given your choice, who would you like to see come into MLS?