1) The 2020 schedule was released this week. Let’s take a look.
First, the good news.
- The team only has one weekend off the whole year, June 6-7. I like this.
- There are only three midweek games, and two of them are at home. I like this as well.
- We’ll have none of those dreaded Sunday/Wednesday/Saturday weeks. I really like this.
Not bad, eh? Now, let’s look at some bad news. Bad weeks, at least.
2) If I were to rank the schedule solely on difficulty-of-travel, I’d say our 3rd toughest week would be SKC on Saturday June 13, Colorado on Wednesday June 17, then away at NYRB on Sunday June 21. That’s Sat/Wed/Sun, home, home, then a long plane ride to New York.
Our 2nd toughest week would be three straight road games. At Minny on Saturday May 23, at Chicago on Wednesday May 27, then at Orlando on Saturday May 30. Three straight roadies, Sat/Wed/Sat.
And our toughest week? I’m calling that the week that starts Saturday June 28 at SKC, then Wednesday July 1 at home vs Columbus, then Sunday July 5 at Nashville. That’s Sun/Wed/Sun, away, home, away. Lots of air travel, lots of time zones, lots of tired Timbers by the end of it.
What do you think of my rankings? Want to change the order? Want to add some weeks I ignored? Let’s hear it down in the comments.
3) Three more schedule things are worth noting.
- The schedule currently has only three Wednesday games, but, as you know, once the US Open Cup starts, we’ll have a few more Wednesday games. Possibly a lot, depending on how we do. I’d say “hopefully at home,” but who are we kidding? We’ll be at Starfire. Book your hotel rooms now.
- This year, we’ll play every Western Conference team twice and almost every Eastern Conference team once. Every MLS team avoids three teams. The teams we won’t play this year are DC, Montreal, and NYCFC.
- Finally, based on last year’s point totals, the Timbers have the 6th easiest schedule in the West, and the 9th easiest overall. So that’s cool, I guess.
4) Final schedule thing (and it’s not even really about the schedule), the preseason tournament’s back.
Despite the name, it’s not a true tournament, with winners advancing to a championship game. Instead, it’s just a series of doubleheaders on Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Based on past years, I’d predict that the A-team will play the first and third games, while the mid-week game will be for the B-team.
Am I excited about this? Mildly. Since season ticket holders get to go for free, I’m pretty sure I’ll go. And since the whole damn tournament’s being “Presented by Old Trapper Beef Jerky,” I assume they’ll be handing out free beef jerky at the gates. Only seems fair, right?
5) There were a couple signings this week, but as usual, not a whole lot of details were given.
On Thursday, it was announced that defender Bill Tuiloma had signed an extension. For how much and for how long? I dunno. But I do know that I like Tuiloma. He’s still young, he’s good now, and he has the possibility of getting better. He’d make an excellent 3rd choice CB, and a more than acceptable 2nd CB.
And then on Friday, it was announced that 2019 Six Degrees Player of the Year Steve Clark will be coming back. As always, there were no details, though I do find it significant that it was described as ‘a new contract’ not ‘an extension.’ Since the article never uses the word multi-year, I think we should assume it’s a one-year contract.
Will Clark be as good in 2020 as he was in his breakout year of 2019? I wouldn’t rule it out, but I also wouldn’t bet money on it. When was the last time a Timbers goalkeeper was awesome two years in a row? I’m not sure I can think of a time. Not in our MLS existence at least.
6) And finally, the (potentially) biggest news of the week: the Timbers may be signing Diego Chara’s younger brother Yimmi.
It started with a bunch of rumors saying it might happen.
Reports: Yimmi Chara "very close" to joining bro in PDXhttps://t.co/LeViTfoeyp— 1STOPSP0RT (@1STOPSP0RT) December 23, 2019
And then some rumors saying that it was almost certainly happening and, even better, he wouldn’t use a DP slot.
We’ve been given the approval to confirm that Yimmi Chara is indeed officially joining the Timbers for 2020! A Dream come true for many of us.— TANABrothersScoutingReport (@TanaScouting) December 23, 2019
Also, he’s not a DP.
But then there were rumors saying that he definitely would use a DP slot.
Timbers tweet: Digging around & transfer fees for Yimmi Chara’s last several transfers have all been over $5M. Also complicated by fact that selling clubs have kept % in past deals involving Yimmi.— Jamie Goldberg (@Jamiebgoldberg) December 23, 2019
If Yimmi is coming to Portland, it won’t be cheap & he‘ll 100% be a DP #RCTID
So, at this point all we’ve got are a whole lot of rumors, but no real, live, actual news. We may sign Yimmi by the close of business today, or we may sign him never.
How do I feel about the possibility of Yimmi Chara in the green and gold? I’m torn, actually.
For starters, we love Diego for many reasons, but I worry that we’ll expect Yimmi to be just like him. We’ll expect the smile, the toughness, the non-stop motor. I worry that if Yimmi is different – and I hate to break this to you, but sometimes brothers are different – that everyone will feel ripped off. They’ll be like “Why doesn’t Yimmi smile? Why doesn’t Yimmi run non-stop? Why isn’t Yimmi a perfect being like Diego?” I worry we’ll have unrealistic expectations of Yimmi the person.
I also worry we’ll have unrealistic expectations of Yimmi the soccer player. Check out his goal-scoring stats I pulled off Wikipedia.
Yimmi’s had only had one great season, scoring 11 goals in 18 games for Atletico Junior in the Colombian league in 2017. Add in his Cup and Continental goals, and it’s still a good season, though maybe not great. His next year with Junior? Also very good, though maybe not great.
The problem is, the Colombian League’s not all that good. I’ve looked around the web for league ratings, and they generally rate the Colombian League as lower-quality than MLS. If fact, this one website I found ranks the Colombian League as lower than USL, if you can believe that.
When Yimmi played in the Brazilian league – which is rated better than MLS – he got 4 goals in 40 games, 9 in 46 if you count Cup and Continental. When he played in the Mexican league – again, rated better than MLS – he got 4 goals in 45 games, 12 in 61 if you count Cup and Continental. Those are not great stats. That’s like scoring 6 or 7 goals over a 34-game MLS season. Decent for a TAM player, better than Andy Polo or Dairon Asprilla, but not what I’d call DP numbers.
Can we count on Yimmi coming to MLS and matching that one amazing season in Colombia? Maybe, but it’s a gamble, and I’m not sure we should gamble with our DP slots.
So, in closing, I’d really like this to be a TAM signing. I could totally see Yimmi coming to MLS and banging in seven or eight goals a year, and if he’s doing it on a TAM contract, I’ll be totally okay with the whole thing. But if he’s signed as a DP? I think that’s a reach. I’d need Yimmi to come in and prove me wrong.
And regardless of how many goals he scores, please remember what I said about him being his own person. Brothers can be very different people. Don’t expect Yimmi to be Diego. Let him be himself.