Ryan Gates already doled out the news in brief yesterday that Futty Danso, Jake Gleeson and Steve Purdy were each called up for national team duty. This editorial is more about how to fill in the holes left by our soon departing team mates.
For both Steve Purdy and Jake Gleeson this is probably a non-issue. While Purdy will be gone until whenever El Salvador finishes its run in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, at present he's a substitute given that Jeremy Hall has been playing fairly well in his old right back position. Barring any injury to Hall, I don't see his absence as being detrimental. Same goes for Gleeson who is currently playing second keeper to Troy Perkins. In fact, both of these players taking off and helping their national team is probably very good for the Portland Timbers,a s each will get to experience a higher level of soccer on a global scale.
And then we come to Futty Danso, who also got called up by his national team (The Gambia) in preparation for the qualifiers for the increasingly more challenging and competitive African Cup of Nations. Obviously I'm very happy for Futty; not only does he get to visit his home, but he also gets to play for national honor, something that most players attempt to achieve in their lifetimes.
Still, his absence is going to hurt the Portland Timbers. While he is only scheduled to miss the Chivas USA game, I can't help but pine over what his loss in even a single game means given his recent performances of late. While Kevin Goldthwaite may have been planned to be our commanding center back at the beginning of the Season Futty has more than stepped up to the plate to help shore up the defense.
And this is, of course, all dependent on whether or not Futty gets held up in Africa for some reason. He's sheduled to be abck on the June 10th, but the Portland Timbers have another game to play on Jun 11th against the Colorado Rapids, of all teams. Should he be too weary or get delayed on a flight, or some other mishap the Timbers could be in bad defensive shape against a very strong attacking opponent.
But enough pining, let's take a look at who we have instead: David Horst and Kevin Goldthwaite.
Right now the most likely candidate to step in for Futty is Horst, who was on the verge of establishing himself as the Timbers' solid center back until he suffered an ankle injury which left him sidelined for a few weeks. Still, his play prior to that was impressive and despite being young, he has the makings of a future leader in the back. I just wonder if he's still a little too young to be give a position against another young center back. There's a certain maturity level that allows defenders to know when to make sweeping defensive plays that don't leave the goalkeeper exposed to strikers. My experience in soccer leads me to believe younger defenders are more often going to do this.
So that leaves us with the more experience and more mature, but not-quite-fan-favorite Kevin Goldthwaite. In some ways, I really want to give Goldthwaite another chance. Despite some pretty abysmal performances at the beginning of the season, he's still the most veteran centerback on the team aside from Futty. He also played fairly well against a Chis Wondolowski and Bobby Convey lead San Jose aside in this month's USOC match (note: he was subbed off before the goal came). It might be worth it to give this veteran a shot once again while at home and since the team has stablized a bit since last March. Afterall the Timbers are certainly paying him a nice chunk of change, they might as well use him right?
So there are the two obvious choices as of now. Note Goldthwaite is current sidelined iwht an ankle injury so he might not be ready regardless.
Who would you choose?