Last Monday the Timbers defense suddenly was looking much more sparsely populated than it was the week before. Already having lost occasional left back Freddy Braun, now the team was also without starting right backs Lovel Palmer and Kosuke Kimura, starting left back Steven Smith, and centerbacks Eric Brunner and Steve Purdy.
This pared down defense is straightforward but still in need of some reinforcements. We don't have too many players capable of filling multiple positions aside from new arrival Michael Harrington which makes potential depth easy to map out. Today we will take a look at the players that could line up in a classic four man back line and the keepers who will back them up with likely starters in italics.
Donovan Ricketts, Joe Bendik, Jake Gleeson
*On Extra Time Radio's podcast yesterday, Gavin Wilkinson intimated that one of the Timbers keepers could be moved soon.
Needs: The Timbers have a squad of decent keepers. Donovan Ricketts is an established starter nearing the end of his career while Joe Bendik served admirably as the backup for both Ricketts and Troy Perkins earlier in the season and can be counted on to step in if necessary.
Wants: Ricketts is no longer on top of his game and can't seem to dominate games like he used to with the Galaxy. The Timbers need one of their young keepers to step up and be ready to take over as the season progresses.
David Horst, Hanyer Mosquera, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Futty Danso
Needs: David Horst and Hanyer Mosquera formed a solid combination at the back by the end of last season. The were not exactly world beaters but showed a marked improvement over the course of the season and had the starting spots sewn up by the end of Gavin Wilkinson's term in charge.
Wants: The consistent lament about the Timbers' backline's has been a lack of leadership. If the team can bring in someone who can provide real leadership from the back it could provide a big boost to the defense, especially with the amount of movement and cycling that Caleb Porter's possession based style of play requires.
Michael Harrington, Rodney Wallace, Chris Taylor
Needs: The Timbers have a competent starter in new addition Michael Harrington and a passable back up in Rodney Wallace. Chris Taylor also continues to gamely hang on after having his option picked up by the Timbers last week. Left back shouldn't be a priority for the Timbers.
Wants: While Michael Harrington should be able to step in and start solidly, he has shown with Sporting Kansas City that he is not an elite back in MLS. While he may be a better fit in Portland than he was in SKC's defense first system, the Timbers should still be on the look out for an upgrade here.
Michael Harrington, Ryan Kawulok
Needs: A starting right back. Unless Caleb Porter rates Rodney Wallace more highly at left back than anyone on the Internet and Michael Harrington is suddenly free to fill on on the right side of the pitch, the Timbers just don't have an answer here. Jack Jewsbury has his proponents and filled in well at right back last season, but his relative lack of mobility makes him a poor fit for the 2-8-0 formation that Porter was a proponent of at Akron.
Wants: A starting right back. Seriously.
In parts 3 and 4 of our roster recap we will look at the Timbers' midfielders and forwards as well as what needs and wants the team has to fill there for the 2013 season, then in part 5 we will wrap up the recap with some speculation about the changes we will see as we eagerly await the start of the preseason in just over two months.