With the season over and some time to digest all that has occurred during the season it is time to give every player a grade. In this edition we will only be looking at the midfielders who played minutes with the first team. We will also be looking at a variety of stats to determine each of the players grades.
He was only able to play in 6 games and started 3. In those 6 games he only had 2 shots with one being on goal. Next year will be a make it or break it year for Eric as it will be his 3rd year in the league and most likely the end of his rookie contract.
Kalif started strong with 5 assists in the first half of the season. However, the second half of the season was a drop off with only 1 assist in the last 17 games of the season. Along with the low number of assists, Kalif was unable get a goal, and in fact his shot on target percentage was a paltry 24%. He shot the ball 58 times, which was good for second most on the team, and only 14 were on target. Compare that to Cooper who had 78 shots with 30 on target for a 34%.
More after the jump
Diego Chara was the outfield player of the year for the Timbers, superficially after the switch of roles with Jack Jewsbury in the middle. Diego was a true box to box midfielder with the ability to both join in on the attack to produce some amazing assists, like the ball to Cooper in the 2nd Vancouver game. Along with joining the attack he was truly the best at tracking back to stop the other teams attack or stop a goal scoring opportunity. Those last minute tackles were amazing and truly showed his commitment to winning. He won 80% of his tackles and was only shown 7 yellow cards for the year which is astounding for how physical he could be. Despite his diminutive size 90% of the time the opposing player ended up on the pitch.
Captain Jack was the MVP for the first half of the season, as he really carried this team at times. He led the team in points with 22 ( 7 goals and 8 assists) and really hit some amazing set pieces. Around August you could really see Captain Jack was laboring and that he was not 100%, which affected not only his game but his set pieces. When Jack did get forward in the beginning of the year it was as if every shot either went in or really tested the opposing keeper. As his attacking role diminished his shots came less and less frequently.
James started out the season struggling in his role as a central Midfielder. His passing was erratic and lacked the quality the Timbers needed. However once he was put into the central triangle with Chara and Jewsbury he really was able to shine. He was able to be a destroyer and break up any attack the opposition created. His distribution also improved as the season went on. If he continues his second half form he will continually press Spencer for more minutes and put the pressure on Captain Jack.
Really showed that he has the most skill on the team on numerous occasions. However, the length of the season really took a toll on him, as in the middle of the year you could see he was gassed. (MLS really should try and convince the NCAA to lengthen the college season) For as skillful as Darlington Nagbe is there were points when he faded and seemed like he wasn't even in the game. He was our highest goal scoring wing with only one goal (his other one coming as a striker).
Most fans absolutely loved it when Zizzo would put his head down and burn down the sideline all the while trying to beat 4 players. I usually groaned because I saw the wide open central players just standing there as Zizzo got tunnel vision. Zizzo had three assists and no goals on the season; on a team that relies on offense from its wings this is not enough. The Timbers needed more from Zizzo and their other wings.
The Timbers midfield really was average in a lot of ways. A midfield is supposed to set up the goals and provide some too. All told for the 6 players listed above there were 11 goals 23 assists. If you look over most other teams you could find two midfielders whose combined goals are more than all of our midfielders. Take away Jewsbury's goals and you get 4 goals amongst 5 players. The Timbers need more production out of their midfield to make the playoffs and to move up the standings. If that happens next year Portland will be a good team, not just an average team.