1) Hey folks, I’m gonna take a quick break from my 5 Favorites columns because there’s something else I want to jump on: Mount Rushmore. MLSsoccer.com’s doing a Mount Rushmore for every MLS franchise. They haven’t gotten to the Timbers yet and I want to beat them to the punch.
Unlike my 5 Favorites columns, this is not a list of who I like the best. Or even, really, who I think is the most talented. It’s the four players who I think have a combination of talent, tenure, likeability, and importance that their faces should be carved in stone on the side of a mountain. Following MLSsoccer.com’s lead, I’ll only cover Timbers from the MLS era, which is convenient, since I wasn’t following them back in ye olde tymes.
2) First up, the easy choices, starting with Diego Valeri.
I mean, come on. Of course he’s making our Mount Rushmore. He’s the club’s all-time leader in both goals and assists, he’s one of only nine players in MLS’s 70/70 Club, he’s two goals away from becoming the third member of the 80/80 Club, and if he’d joined the Timbers when he was 22 instead of 26, it would probably be him and Landon Donovan in the league’s 110/110 Club.
3) Another easy choice: Diego Chara.
Where does La Sonrisa rank on the list of MLS’s Greatest Defensive Midfielders? People talk about Ozzie Alonso and Chris Armas. They sometimes mention Kyle Beckerman, too. But I’m not trading Chara for any of those guys. He’s skilled, he’s consistent, he’s durable, he’s a great teammate, and he’s a great member of the Portland community. He’s our second no-brainer for Mount Rushmore.
4) Now, the tougher choices, starting with Fanendo Adi.
If you ask me, Adi’s also a no-brainer. He was the team’s first great striker, he was the first Timber to reach 50 goals, and he was a good dude. Unfortunately, he’s also the most underappreciated Timber in club history. With all the haters out there, I expect this choice will get some argument.
5) Another guy who might get some argument? Darlington Nagbe.
Nagbe was the team’s first draft pick back in 2011 and spent the next seven years leading, not just the team, but the entire league in “stuff that doesn’t show up in the box score but really helps the team.” The pass before the pass? That was Nagbe. Providing a safe outlet when the defense is all up in your shit? That was Nagbe. Dribbling through five guys then passing to Valeri so he can get the assist? That was Nagbe.
But... he didn’t have great stats, so I imagine some people will argue against his inclusion on our Mount Rushmore. For my money, though, he’s up there.
6) And who are the guys who just missed the cut? Who are the guys who might belong in this conversation? Probably just Jack Jewsbury and Liam Ridgewell. Jack was our Captain for the club’s first two MLS seasons, while Ridgy is probably the best center back we’ve ever had and a huge part of our MLS Cup season. I’m totally willing to hear arguments for these two.
Beyond them? I’m not sure who else belongs in this conversation. Sebastian Blanco? Great performance, but not enough tenure. Futty Danso? Lots of tenure, but not enough performance. If we went back to ye olde tymes, then, yeah, sure, we could consider Clive Charles and Jimmy Conway. And if we included non-players, then I might throw Timber Jim up there. But since it’s just MLS players, I’m going with Valeri, Chara, Adi, and Nagbe. They have the best combination of talent, tenure, likeability, and importance. They’re my four.
Disagree? Awesome. State your case for some other player down in the comments. I look forward to hearing it. (And there better be at least one impassioned defense of Franck Songo’o. The guy was in Barcelona’s academy, for God’s sake.)