A little while ago, in fact it was the first day that this little blog came to be in existence on the SB Nation network, I created a post that analyzed our current attacking options back then. It was basically a brief look at Bright Dike, Eddie Johnson, Ryan Pore and Peter Lowry. Needless to say, back then we'd be in a spot of trouble were we taking the field in competitive play.
Today, however, marks a much different look at our offense. While I'm not going to be making any claims that we'll be the best attacking squad this upcoming season, I will say that I'm certainly not as worried as I might have been even a couple weeks ago.
So, with that said, let's take a look at our two newest attacking-minded players: Darlngton Nagbe and Kenny Cooper.
As many of you remember, last Thursday during the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, the clouds parted ways just the tiniest amount to shine onto the Timbers table in what would amount to a surprise steal at the event. Many, many, many pundits had expected Vancouver to take Nagbe unconditionally given the youngsters ability to find the net. Fortunately for us, they picked Salgado and we acquired what who many believed to be the best player in the draft: Darlington Nagbe.
But we know all of this already, the true question comes in where Nagbe would fit in best with the team. Obviously as a player who can play as either an attacking midfielder or a straight forward this gives Nagbe the chance to shine in multiple areas on the pitch.
Of course, it's not and black and white as that. While winning the Hermann Trophy is a momentous achievement and his college career was top notch, Nagbe is still an untested variable within MLS, especially when competing with and against MLS players with years of experience.
My guess, given that Nagbe was a leader in assists for Akron, is that were we to maximize our attacking potential we'll need to slot him in a similar role as, and forgive the comparison here, Seattle has done with Steve Zakuani. Zakuani is a very talented forward who is not always directly in front of the goal, but contributes just as much and always as often. I might be better for us for Nagbe to play a similar "feeding" role with Cooper and our other striker.
Of course, as Nagbe comes into training this week the coaches will be able to get a better idea of where to put him. Nice to have a dynamic attacking option no matter which way you look at it though.
This is it. This is our guy. Cooper. The striker that I've been pining for since the 2010 season concluded. It may have taken until January 17th to become officially announced (MLS's international transfer window doesn't open until January 15th), but it's finally happened, it's official, and we are now a legitimate attacking force to be reckoned with.
But let's slow down and take a look at Cooper. I won't lie to you, having Kenny Cooper in the squad is, in no way, a guarantee for our team heading into the 2011 season. Despite his flashes of brilliance an an amazing 2008 season, Cooper's career has actually been a little spotty in terms of injuries (2007 and 2009 left Kenny mostly sidelined due to injuries) something we'll definitely have to keep an eye out for.
Still, you can't argue with results. In 2008, Cooper was a regular striker for FC Dallas and went on to score 18 times for the team during the season (only 2 goals behind Landon Donovan) and was generally seen as one of the best strikers in the league. To put it into perspective, for the 2010 season the two top goal scorers for the season were Chris Wondolowski and Edson buddle who scored 18 and 17 goals each respectively.
So where will he go? Right up top. No doubt about it. Cooper is going to be one of our consistent strikers for the 2011 season provided injuries don't drag him down.
The Unannounced Colombian
Of course, another reason I'm hesitant to immediately place Nagbe up top is simply due to the fact that there's a pretty heavy rumor floating around right now that the Timbers are about to sign a Colombian striker.
I don't know who he is, what club he is coming from, or even if this rumor has any real legs or not. Certainly is an interesting rumor though. And to put it into perspective Fredy Montero, the Sounders player every Portlander loves to hate, is Colombian himself. While we certainly don't want to end up with Fredy, he should serve a prime example of the kind of strikers the country can produce.
If/when the Colombian is announced I'll revisit this article for a third time and and flesh it out a bit more with updated information. Until then enjoy the analysis.
Feel free to check out my previous post about our other attacking options.