A week ago, the Timbers were boring us to tears with their lack of news. This week, it’s been non-stop action. Let’s break it all down.
1) It wasn’t a big surprise, but Liam Ridgewell and the Timbers have mutually agreed to part ways. Ridgy was somewhat of a polarizing figure during the 4-plus years he was here. He got injured too much, he wasn’t nearly as good on the road as he was at home, he seemed to loaf every now and then, and worst of all, he occasionally posted photos of himself on Instagram doing things like boating and golfing and not soccering. The nerve!
But despite all that, I think it’s fair to argue that Ridgy was the best, or at least most important, center back in the team’s MLS history. Here’s a good highlight video, but to be honest, these numbers may be all you need to see.
2) In addition to being good at soccer, Ridgy was also one of the locker room’s most lighthearted personalities, as you can see in this April Fools Day video and this one after winning MLS Cup.
If I were to make a list of Timbers who seemed to be the most fun in the locker room, it would include Ridgy, Fanendo Adi, Pa Modou Kah, assistant coach Sean McCauley, and Zarek Valentin.
Four of those five people are gone now, and I hope this hasn’t hurt the team’s culture. I hope there’s still plenty of joy and laughter to be found.
3) So, with Ridgy gone, who’s playing center back next year? Presumably, Larrys Mabiala’s got that right side locked down. Who’s next to him? Bill Tuiloma? Julio Cascante? Claude Dielna?
It seems pretty well decided that we’re signing Dielna from New England. I don’t know too much about him. He’s 31, French, and it’s possible he got in Coach Brad Friedel’s doghouse last year. This article is implying that, though a little too vaguely to be sure.
Many other roster moves occurred in the last week, as well as continuing rumors about an incoming right back and forward. Jamie Goldberg from the Oregonian really is your best source for news like this. All I can offer are thoughts and questions, most of which currently go back and forth between “Should we be playing our kids?” and “Adding talent’s always good, even if it buries younger players, right?”
Where do you land in this discussion?
4) Speaking of young players, MLS just held its annual SuperDraft, or as I like to call it, the VeryRarelyABigDealDraft.
The Timbers drafted forward Ryan Sierakowski out of Michigan State, defender Lennart Hein out of St. Louis, defender Francesco Moore out of Indiana, and midfielder David Zalzman out of Memphis.
Will any of these guys make a dent with the Timbers, or will we have completely forgotten their names a year from now? Will they turn out to be Darlington Nagbes or Trevor Morleys?
Who’s Trevor Morley, you ask? Apparently, he was a Timbers draft pick in 2016, but I swear, I have no memory of him. None whatsoever.
5) In fact, let’s play a game. Below is a list of every player the Timbers have drafted since joining MLS. (I think it’s complete. I got it by digging around on Wikipedia and the Oregonian.) There are 30 names. How many do you recognize?
Kharlton Belmar, Nick Besler, Neco Brett, Seth Casiple, Russell Cicerone, Jeremy Ebobisse, George Fochive, Wade Hamilton, Chris Hegngi, Doug Herrick, Miguel Ibarra, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Champ Kind, Brendan King, Nikita Kotlov, Aaron Long, Anthony Manning, Wes Mantooth, David Meves, Trevor Morley, Taylor Mueller, Darlington Nagbe, Dr. Kenneth Noisewater, Taylor Peay, Ben Polk, Chris Taylor, Andy Thoma, Schillo Tshuma, Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, Christian Volesky.
I recognize 19 of the 30, but since three of them aren’t actually soccer players, just characters from the movie Anchorman, I guess I really only recognize 16 of 27.
This year’s selections – Sierakowski, Hein, Moore, and Zalzman – could all turn out to be Darlington Nagbes, or they could end up being Trevor Morleys. The only thing I can guarantee is that they won’t be Kenneth Noisewaters. Of this, I’m certain.
6) For the second straight week, I was hoping to keep this post below 600 words, but here we are, already over 700. I’ll keep this final degree super-short.
Preseason starts next Tuesday! Can you believe it? The team will spend some time here in Portland, then go to Costa Rica, then head to their usual preseason spot in Tuscon, Arizona.
It’s a little shocking how quickly it’s coming up. A week until they’re practicing? A month and a half until they’re playing competitively? Very exciting!
I’ll be back in a week to give my thoughts, and I expect a ton of news between now and then. The slow, quiet days are over. Things are gonna be picking up in a big way. I can’t wait.