No real news in Timberdom this week, so we’ll once again pull out my favorite slow-news-week-gimmick, listing my five favorite Timbers. This time, we’ll do attacking midfielders.
6) If you’ll recall from the last time I pulled out this gimmick, I stuck all wingers, both left and right, onto one list, mostly because the team’s had so few wingers of note. That’s not a problem with our midfielders. We’ve had so many likeable midfielders, that I can easily split them into two groups. Next time, we’ll do defensive midfielders, but this week, it’s the attackers.
Quick reminder, if I’ve already listed a player in a different Five Favorites column, I’m not going to list him again. (Sorry, Blanco, but you already made the wingers column.) As always, this is not a list of the five best attacking midfielders, just the ones I like the most. You don’t have to be good to make this list, I just have to like you.
5) My fifth favorite attacking midfielder is Michael Nanchoff.
Nanchoff played a grand total of 120 minutes for the Timbers, but he always seemed like a fun dude. In one of his few appearances, he accidentally slid into Caleb Porter on the sideline, sending the coach flying. In his post game interview, they asked him how he felt about smashing his old college coach. Nanchoff was laughing about it, saying, “Sorry, Coach. Sorry, not sorry.”
4) My fourth favorite attacking midfielder is Eryk Williamson.
Williamson has played only 234 minutes for the Timbers, but I love him. Not for his play, which is still waiting to click at the MLS level, but for his personality. Every interview I’ve ever heard with the guy, I’ve liked him. He seems smart and thoughtful and well-spoken and like a bit of a nerd. Seeming like a bit of a nerd is pretty much all you have to do to get on my good side. But if that’s still not enough for you, there’s this: you know Queen Latifah? She’s Eryk’s cousin. Awwww yeah.
3) My third favorite attacking midfielder is Eric Alexander.
I’ve always had a strong “oh, what could have been” feeling with Alexander. He played a little for the Timbers in 2011 and 2012, then went to the Red Bulls and immediately became an every game starter. Why didn’t he succeed here in Portland? He was smooth on the ball, had a good eye for passing lanes, and seemed like a good locker room presence, yet we sent him packing. I can’t even remember who we replaced him with. Some guy from Argentina, I think.
2) My second favorite attacking midfielder is Darlington Nagbe.
The great thing about loving Nags was that so, so many people didn’t understand how good he was. “Not many goals, not many assists, what’s so great about this guy?” But we understood, didn’t we? Nags was a possession machine. Give him the ball anytime, anywhere, surrounded by as many defenders as you like, and he’s not getting dispossessed. He’s just not. Plus, he may not have scored a lot, but every goal he did score was a golazo. Still not enough for you? Well, he was also the subject of the greatest heat map in the history of sports, courtesy of Twitter’s @ronalgringo.
1) My favorite attacking midfielder is Diego Valeri.
Of course it’s Valeri. From the moment he arrived in this town, he’s been a colossus both on the field and off. He’s the club’s all-time leader in goals and assists, but that’s not why he’s on this list. He’s on this list because he’s far from just a great player, he’s a great man, too. He perfectly represents what we all want this team and this city to be, and I hope he’s here until the day he retires. And beyond. #BuildTheStatue
So there you go. My favorite attacking midfielders. Got any favorites of your own? And remember, they don’t have to be good, there just needs to be something about them you always liked. Any Barmby lovers out there? How about La Gata? Let me hear about it down in the comments.