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Six Degrees: Risky Business

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Craig Mitchelldyer — Portland Timbers

1) Welp, it’s official. The Timbers have signed right winger Yimmi Chara, and they’ve signed him as a Designated Player.

My position on this hasn’t changed from the last time I wrote about it: I’m skeptical. I think Yimmi had one or two really good years in Colombia, but MLS is a step up from that league, so I’m worried he’ll come here and struggle. This would be totally fine if he were a TAM signing, but he’s not, he’s a DP, so I’m concerned. This was my position two weeks ago and it’s still my position today.

Here are some interesting stats.

Those stats are pretty cool and all, but I’m still unconvinced. Yeah, Yimmi was in Mexico and Brazil, and those are very good leagues... but that’s not where he crushed it. He was middling in those leagues. Where he crushed it was in Colombia, and MLS is a step up from that.

God, I hope I’m wrong. I really, really, REALLY hope I’m wrong. I hope Yimmi comes in and absolutely kicks ass. I hope I have to write a column at some point this year talking about how incredibly wrong I was and how Yimmi has completely lived up to his contract. I truly want this to happen.

2) What would that take? What would I consider a good season for Yimmi Chara?

Does he have to score a bunch of goals? What if he only has five goals, but also has five assists? That’s a ton better than we ever got out of Andy Polo, Dairon Asprilla, or Lucas Melano. Hell, that’s probably better than we got out of all three combined. Would it be enough? Would five and five be enough for a DP contract?

Probably not.

But what if he got five goals and five assists, while also running around like a madman, harassing the opposition, and basically being a more attacking version of his older brother, Diego Chara? What if he was also a great addition to the locker room? Would all that be enough to justify the DP contract?

I’m not sure, but we’re definitely getting closer.

What do you think? Down in the comments, give me your minimum requirement for Yimmi to earn that DP contract.

3) Two final things on Yimmi.

First thing, Yimmi gives me a slight case of the uncanny valleys. You know what the uncanny valley is, right? It’s when a robot is really close to looking like a human, but not quite, and it creeps people right the hell out. That’s kinda where I am with Yimmi. Watch this video of his first day with the team. He looks a lot like Diego, but not quite, and it’s freaking me out a little. I’m sure I’ll get over it, but for now, it’s odd.

Second thing, this tweet, which I agree with 1000%.

4) Speaking of DP strikers, I’m a little concerned about this rumor.

And here’s an entire article about the potential deal, which Google will be happy to translate for you.

What do I think? I think this guy Jaroslaw Niezgoda has had some absolutely sensational years in Poland. Check out his stats.

Impressive, right? But there’s a caveat. The Polish league’s not that good. This website doesn’t rank it in the top 34 leagues in the world. (Worth noting: the Colombian league ain’t ranked, either.)

5) Just like I wrote about Yimmi two weeks ago, if Niezgoda is a TAM signing, I’m cool with it. But if he’s a DP, I don’t like it, for all the reasons I don’t like Yimmi as a DP. Signing players with one or two good years in leagues that are worse than MLS is just fine... if they’re TAM signings. Not if they’re DPs.

I’m already worried we messed up making Yimmi a DP, and now we’re going to do it again? Twice in one off-season? This seems like a dangerous strategy.

Now, to be clear, I hope both these guys come in and make me look stupid. I hope they come in and score in the double-digits and play great defense and bring the locker room together and charm the shit out of us supporters. I really hope that happens. But if it doesn’t, I think we might be looking back on this off-season as the time Gavin Wilkinson took some chances and missed.

6) Final thing: what if the Timbers don’t use that third and final DP spot? What if we bring in a couple TAM strikers, and start the year with an open DP spot?

I would be 100% okay with this.

After all, right now, we think we know what the team needs. We think we know its strengths and weaknesses. But we could be wrong. It’s possible we’ve got weakness that aren’t going to become apparent until we’ve played some games. Maybe a month or two into the season, we’ll be like, Holy shit, I had no idea our FILL IN THE BLANK was going to be this bad! We need help!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a DP slot just sitting there, ready to use?

So, yeah, I’m totally cool with us not using that DP slot right now. What do you think? Let me know down in the comments.