Last Saturday's game showed us that, despite an impressive three game undefeated streak, the Portland Timbers still have a lot of work to do in almost all categories. Passing accuracy, ball control, technical skill, backline defense are all areas that I'm, personally, still very worried about heading into our home game against the undefeated, CCL champion-contending side, Real Salt Lake.
Still, it's not all bad news, as Saturday showed us a tiny glimpse of our first ever designated player: Diego Chara. While he certainly didn't make the game on Saturday there was much to be impressed by, especially during the second half run up to an almost-goal by Kenny Cooper when Diego Chara played a very nice through-ball to Jorge Perlaza who made the quick, on-spot cross to Kenny. It was a nice play that, against almost any other goalkeeper in the league, would have netted us at least the single goal.
After seeing Diego Chara on the field, I'm wondering now just what we can expect from the creative midfielder, especially once he plays for a full 90 and not just as a substitution. Even more important, I'm wondering just what will come of the past relationship Diego Chara has with our own Jorge Perlaza, who trained and played together for almost a decade.
The duo obviously has a history of success with each other. In all honesty, playing that long with another player usually breeds success given that each knows what the other will do on the field and where each should and will be at the appropriate time.
"We were together in [Deportes] Quindío in 2004 until 2006 and then we played at [Deportes] Tolima and we played all last year together. I’m very happy because the teams that we’ve been on together have had great results," said Chara.
My hope is that small flicker of attacking brilliance we saw that almost lead to a goal this past week will become a regular occurrence throughout the rest of the season.
I know it's a little difficult to imagine now, but the way the Portland Timbers are organizing and structuring their squad is not entirely dissimilar to what Real Salt Lake did when they first became an MLS team. Starting from the ground up with young, energetic players with a couple key veterans has worked wonders for them and my hope is that our own Portland Timbers, with the help of our newest DP, will be molded in a similar fashion.
This year will probably be rough and I honestly wouldn't expect Diego Chara to perform the miracles that fans often expect out of their Designated Players (not even Thierry Henry can bank you an MLS Cup). Still, his presence here will probably do more good on our team than any other players the Timbers have signed to date. Not because he is a "designated player" but rather because he fills an important position that was largely left vacant in the midfield and also brings a very, very important relationship with Jorge Perlaza.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither were the Portland Timbers. We may not be an MLS Cup contender this year (although anything could happen) but with this kind of depth, we could see ourselves with an MLS Cup and CCL deep run in the years ahead. Hell, it certainly beats the LA/New York strategy of spend, spend, spend on retiring veterans from Europe.