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Portland Timbers Positional Breakdown: The Midfielders

With the preseason about to kick off, we are taking a look at the Portland Timbers position by position. Up next are the midfielders.

Steve Dykes

The Midfielders

Kalif Alhassan, Diego Chara, Steven Evans, George Fochive, Will Johnson, Mikita Kotlov, Aaron Long, Darlington Nagbe, Michael Nanchoff, Diego Valeri, Steve Zakuani, Rodney Wallace, Ben Zemanski

Depatures: Sal Zizzo, Brent Richards, Brad Ring, Sebastian Rincon

The total number of minutes played by those midfielders departing comes to 256 minutes and Zizzo accounts for 255 of those minutes. By trading away Sal Zizzo obtained allocation money which could be or already has been put to good use. The loss Brent Richards is more sentimental than anything as he was a great community representative and the Timbers' first ever home grown player.

Arrivals: Steven Zakuani

The addition of Zakuani is a very low risk high reward signing and something that could prove to be a very smart gamble. On the other hand if Zakuani does not return to his pre-injury form or is only 80% the Timbers could have a significant amount of money tied up in someone who will provide the same amount of minutes Sal Zizzo did. I would not bet against Caleb Porter as he has a track record of squeezing more out of a player.

Draft Picks: George Fochive, Mikita Kotlov, Aaron Long

The three draft picks are long shots to make the team with Long having the greatest chance of making the team. If they do make the final roster I would expect them to spend a significant amount of time in Sacramento or only see playing time during the USOC and possibly the last group stage game in the CCL.

Players to Watch: Steven Zakuani

Portland's replacement for the injured Rodney Wallace joins the team with lingering doubts about his ability to return to the form that had pundits and Seattle Fans raving. If Zakuani can return to at least 80% of that form the Portland Timbers will receive the production they need to spread the field and if he returns to his pre-injury form than Portland becomes a very dangerous team. Imagine an in form Nagbe on one side and pre-injury Zakuani on the other. It could be a thing of beauty. Of course this all hinges on the health of Zakuani and he could turn out to be a bust but I would expect Zakuani to be a suitable replacement for Rodney Wallace.

Predicated Starters: Diego Valeri, Will Johnson, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, Steve Zakuani

The first choice starters from last year will still be the starters at the beginning of this year with the only change will be the replacement of Rodney Wallace. I can see the replacement of Wallace being the biggest question mark and one that is the hardest to predict. Porter has a lot of options here as he can go with Alhassan, Zakuani, or even Gaston Fernandez. In the end I think using Zakuani gives Portland the same type of player Wallace was and eases the transition.