Ever since the Portland Timbers' inception into MLS it seems like fans have been calling for one prominent element to be added to the squad: a creative midfielder. While Franck Songo'o certainly played better as a forward rather than a midfielder (where he refused to track back to defend) he was, without a doubt, the primary creative element. In fact, in games where everybody else had seemingly given up, it was Songo'o's tireless efforts that at least gave the fans some hope.
Check out his first ever goal for the Timbers:
(Watch at about 3:45 to catch the goal.)
Despite it coming off a free kick, it was still very impressive! The Portland Timbers would go on to win that game at home 2-1 with the help of Songo'o. This would eventually lead them to Vancouver a couple months later to play for the Cascadia Cup trophy. While he didn't score a goal against Vancouver in Vancouver, he did earn an assist on the only goal earned up north. For that reason, it's not difficult to say that without Franck in that game the Portland Timbers wouldn't have the Cascadia Cup trophy right now.
What was most impressive about Songo'o, however, wasn't his stats. He did alright with his singular goal and 5 assists comparatively (only Eric Alexander had a higher assist amount in 2012), but it really seemed like it was his indomitable spirit that kept the Portland Timbers in the game every time it seemed like they were going to give up. If there was one player we could count on not to phone it in, aside from perhaps Diego Chara, it was Songo'o.
In the end, Songo'o has proven himself to not only be a valued member of this team, but a core member. Looking into 2013, it's a bit frightening to think of the squad without him up top, especially after he spent a year solidifying himself and meshing with the team. He could be poised to have a banner year in 2013.
Should the Timbers keep him?
I think we're all a little on edge over this one right now, particularly because nothing has been announced with regards to his staying or leaving. He was signed to a one-year deal but the Timbers have been mum on just what will happen. My guess is that negotiations are still fairly deep in and we'll know something within a couple weeks. Still, it's our opinion here that Songo'o would be incredibly valuable to the squad in 2013 and, short of Songo'o asking for a hugely gross pay increase, I see no reason why the Timbers shouldn't keep him.
According to a press release issued earlier this month Songo'o's original contract was for two years, making my previous statement entirely incorrect. Sorry! Still, it goes without saying that the Timbers should keep the creative forward and not trade him away given his impact on the team in 2012.
Also his brother just signed with the league, for whatever that's worth. Hopefully both enjoy fruitful MLS experiences in 2013!