1) The season’s still young, so it might seem foolish to hand out report cards. Fortunately, this isn’t a full report card, it’s just a progress report that the players can take home and get their parents to sign. Nothing to panic about just yet. No one’s gonna get grounded. There’s still plenty of time to raise these grades.
Here’s my grading system:
A – well above average
B – above average
C – an average MLS player at their position
D – below average
F – well below average
And, of course, with all our injuries, you can expect a few “Incompletes.”
2) Strikers and Wingers
- Felipe Mora – current grade: B – Timbers fans can’t seem to make up their mind on Mora. I think he’s an above average MLS striker. Not amazing, but someone a whole lot of teams would love to have.
- Jeremy Ebobisse – current grade: B- – He’s been close a few times, but Jebo has yet to get on the scoring sheet. The quality’s still there, though, so I’m sure he’ll raise this grade.
- Sebastian Blanco – current grade: Incomplete – Based on photos and videos of Seba in training, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s in the Starting XI for our next game. Hopefully, it won’t take him long to shake off the rust.
- Jaroslaw Niezgoda – current grade: Incomplete – There’s also a photo of Jarek in training, but I think he’s further from returning. July? August, maybe?
- Yimmi Chara – current grade: B – Now in his second year with the team, Yimmi has become a reliably dangerous player. He’s not blowing anyone away, but he’s always a little above average. I trust him.
- Marvin Loria – current grade: B- – Marvin’s stepped it up a little this year. With all the injuries, he’s gotten a lot more starts, and has more than held his own.
- Dairon Asprilla – current grade: B+ – For a few games there, Dairon was a clear and obvious A+. He’s come back to Earth since then, but I’m hopeful we’ll see that dominating play again. Hopefully before November.
- Blake Bodily – current grade: C – After being an utter non-entity last season, in 2021 Bodily’s been a regular on the bench and even has a couple starts. Is it due to our absurd number of injuries? Probably, but minutes are minutes, reps are reps, and the kid hasn’t looked overwhelmed. It will be interesting to see if he remains a factor once we start getting healthy. (For the record, I’m not sure if Bodily should be listed here with the strikers and wingers, or down in the next group with the midfielders. He did sorta kinda play striker that one game.)
- Diego Valeri – current grade: C – It saddens me to say it, but El Maestro hasn’t really been un maestro this year. He’s been an average MLS player. Will he stay that way? I sure hope not. I hope he tears it up the rest of the year and makes this grade look ridiculous. For now, though, average.
- Eryk Williamson – current grade: A- – Eryk’s the only Timber who’s getting an A. Dude hasn’t dropped off at all since last year. We won’t be losing him to the Olympics, but what about the Gold Cup in July? It wouldn’t shock me if Gregg Berhalter called him up. Eryk’s certainly earned a shot.
- Cristhian Paredes – current grade: C – Like so many others, Cristhian’s been hurt, so he only has two appearances. He looked decent, though, and I’m hopeful that he’s leaving 2020’s weak performance behind him.
- Andy Polo – current grade: C – Thanks to a horrible tackle from the Galaxy, Andy’s done for the year. He looked decent in the four games he did play, though. He’s still not an attacker, but a willing defender with good pace. Get well soon, Andy.
- Renzo Zambrano – current grade: C – With all the injuries, Renzo’s played a bit more this year than last, but still hasn’t done much to stand out. He’s not exceptional, but not awful, either. Sounds like a C to me.
- Diego Chara – current grade: B+ – I feel bad giving Diego anything less than an A, but in the three games he played before getting injured, something felt a tiny bit off. He looked okay, but not dominant. Am I imagining this? I hope I’m imaging this. I hope he comes back from the break and starts looking like his usual self.
- George Fochive – current grade: Incomplete – It’s good to have George back, but the way things are going this year, I feel like we should dress him in bubble wrap so he doesn’t get injured in his very first training session.
4) Defenders and Goalkeepers
- Larrys Mabiala – current grade: C+ – Hard to tell, since, like everyone else, he’s spent time on the injured list, but Larrys has taken a small step back this year. To my eyes, at least. I hope he can raise this grade, but can’t guarantee it.
- Bill Tuiloma – current grade: B- – Scored a goal against Seattle, and helped with those two straight shutouts, but was also on the field when we gave up three set piece goals to Philadelphia.
- Zac McGraw – current grade: C- – Zac has finally gotten some field time this year, and I was hoping to give him a C, but then I remembered he was on the field for that 4-1 nightmare down in Dallas, which drops him half a letter grade.
- Dario Zuparic – current grade: C – This grade bothers me, since I think of Zoop as an above average MLS center back, but he was the only center back on the field for both the Dallas nightmare and the Philadelphia set piece fiasco. That makes me drop him to a C.
- Pablo Bonilla – current grade: C – He’s looked good at times, but gets dinged for being a part of that Dallas nightmare.
- Ismaila Jome – current grade: C- – Remember Jome? He played five minutes, so I can’t give him an Incomplete, but still, he didn’t make any sort of impression on me.
- Claudio Bravo – current grade: D- – The Human Penalty Machine has been such a disappointment. The only reason he’s not getting an F is that he’s looked halfway decent in the attack. Maybe we should make him a winger. That turned things around for Rodney Freaking Wallace back in the day.
- Josecarlos Van Rankin – current grade: B+ – Finally, a defender I’m legitimately happy with. From the opening whistle on opening day, dude has looked so comfortable out there, you’d think he’d been on the team for years.
- Steve Clark – current grade: C – Played in just one game, a 1-0 loss to Vancouver. Let’s hope he’s healthy soon, because I still believe in him and think he’ll raise this grade.
- Jeff Attinella – current grade: C+ – Weird year for Jeff Jeff Jeff. Played in only three games, one where he subbed in for Clark, one where he played the full game, and one where he played part of the game before suffering a season-ending injury. Better luck next year, Jeff.
- Aljaz Ivacic – current grade: Incomplete – Yet another injured goalkeeper. I hope he gets healthy and starts a game, because that would be five starting keepers in one season, which must be an MLS record.
- Hunter Sulte – current grade: F – Too harsh? The kid’s played in two games and looked completely overwhelmed in both of them. That sounds like an F to me.
- Logan Ketterer – current grade: B – Unlike Sulte, when Ketterer got on the field, he didn’t look even the tiniest bit overwhelmed. My understanding is that he’s already gone back to El Paso, so this is probably his final grade for 2021, but I won’t be at all surprised if he gets picked up by some other MLS team later this season. Hell, maybe we’ll end up facing him.
- Gio Savarese and staff – current grade: B – Despite our absurd number of injuries, the team is still in the mix. If we can, one, get healthy, and two, fix our set piece defending, I think we’re gonna climb the standings.
- The team’s medical staff – current grade: D – Are all these injuries the fault of the medical staff? Well, probably not the torn ACLs or Andy Polo getting crushed by a tackle, but what about all the soft tissue injuries? The hammys and the quads and the whatever else’s. Should we blame the medical team for those? This is a genuine question. Please give me your thoughts down below, especially if you’re a doctor or a trainer or have some other kind of experience with this sort of thing. I’d love a little edumacation on this subject.
6) Front Office
- Gavin Wilkinson and staff – current grade: C- – We only had two major additions this year. Van Rankin’s a B+. Bravo’s an D-. I feel like that warrants a C- for Gavin and his team.
- Merritt Paulson and staff – current grade: B – I’ve been to three games this year (Houston, Marathon, and Club America), and while everyone’s experience is different, I thought the front office did a decent job operating within the COVID rules set by the governor. They zip-tied a bunch of seats, got people in the gates pretty quickly, walked around with signs reminding people to stay masked up, and did what I thought was a pretty good all-around job. This grade could change immensely, though. Will things continue to be smooth at our next game, when we’ll be at 80% capacity and everyone will have to flash an immunization card at the gate? All I know is that I’ll be arriving extra early. I don’t want to still be standing in some never-ending line while the players are inside kicking off.
So, what do you think of my progress report grades? Who’s too high? Who’s too low? Who’s going to spend the rest of the year raising or lowering their grade the most? Sound off down below.