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Stock up, Stock down: evaluating T2’s up-and-comers at the beginning of July

Bennett Dewan

It’s hard to stay up to date on Timbers 2.

From the upcoming hectic stretch of five games in fifteen days for the Timbers, to the Women’s World Cup and constant Thorns play, there’s always something going on in Soccer City, USA. It’s okay if you don’t have the time to take in and digest how T2 is doing. However, it is important to keep at least an eye on some of these players as they are the future of the Timbers first team.

The Timbers aren’t lauded for their youth development or #playingthekids. Games like the one last week in Montreal are an anomaly. Recently, more of the Timbers younger players, who have been developing through the academy and T2, are receiving first-team opportunities. Recent examples include Renzo Zambrano, Tomas Conechney, and Marvin Loria, while many others are coming up through the ranks.

The goal of this biweekly column is to give you, the reader, something to skim so that you can see who to keep an eye out for in the future. A player like Marvin Loria — who debuted with a goal, an assist, and a drawn penalty — didn’t just come out of nowhere ... and if you followed T2 closely, you would have known that the talent was there.

Each rendition of this article will have three “stock up” players and three “stock down” players. From here on out, I will be putting out a poll on Twitter for readers to vote on the third player on each list. Hopefully, this column will be a useful resource for those interested in learning more about T2 and one that will continue to improve each time. Any suggestions for how to make something like this better in the future are appreciated as well.

Now, without further ado, the first T2 stock up and stock down report.

Stock Up

Brayan Hurtado

With T2’s depth being tested over the past few weeks, nobody has stepped up the way Brayan Hurtado has. The 20-year-old Venezuelan striker has netted a goal in each of his past three games and is now the team’s second-leading scorer with five goals (Asprilla has six). Hurtado has shown that he can do a bit of everything with his 6’ 1” frame. He has effectively played as the target man for direct balls, and he’s used his pace to collect the ball deep and make deep runs forward when needed. Off the ball, he has been making strong runs to either draw the opposition away or to make a play for the ball.

While having the speed and size to be a multifaceted attacking threat, he has also proved to be a bit of a poacher. Last weekend against Phoenix Rising FC, his goal came from picking up a deflection on a late run into the box and passing it past the keeper.

With most of T2’s most reliable attacking options getting time with the first team, Hurtado’s instant offense has been a great addition, and he has shown flashes of what he can be in the future.

Aljaz Ivacic

Aljaz Ivacic has played just three games for T2 in his career, but he has already produced 15 saves and a clean sheet. Ivacic has always been rumored to be a player brought in to compete for a first team spot; after coming off of corrective surgery on his leg, he sure looks the part.

As far as shot-stopping and distribution goes, Ivacic has looked solid. He doesn’t have the athleticism of Kendall McIntosh, but his soccer IQ looks to be a step ahead, and he seems to be more of a multifaceted keeper. He also has a strong arm, which he has used to efficiently spring midfielders and attackers into space.

I talked about Ivacic in my most recent “Three Takeaways” column and — while it may be only a small sample size — the Slovenian looks to have what it takes to push Steve Clark and Jeff Atinella in the near future.

Todd Wharton

Todd Wharton is one of those players that doesn’t seem to stand out upon first glance, but one who works hard and is a vital cog in coach Cameron Knowle’s system. He last scored on June 16 from a penalty kick when T2 hosted Fresno FC.

His presence in the midfield makes the entire team better, and he has stepped up his play recently, which has helped fill some of the voids in the center of the park after Eryk Williamson and Renzo Zambrano got called up.

Defensively, Wharton’s 36 interceptions lead the team, while his 23 key passes have him tied with Williamson for the most on the team. He’s a jack-of-all-trades type of player for T2, who has only gotten better as the season has progressed.

Stock Down

Foster Langsdorf

On paper, Foster Langsdorf is one of T2’s best attacking talents. A season ago Langsdorf finished with 14 goals and looked to be on pace with Jeremy Ebobisse as a potential first-team call-up. Langsdorf is a goal-scorer — after all, he is the leading scorer in Pac-12 history with 37 goals at Stanford — but he has just four goals in 13 games played, with two in one game back at the beginning of the season.

Despite his goal-scoring numbers decreasing, his other offensive contributions haven’t increased. He is currently at the bottom when it comes to passes per 90 minutes (15.2) and seems to be very reliant on other teammates to set him up with good opportunities. With creative players such as Williamson and Loria being out of the lineup, Langsdorf will have to be more creative and proactive when it comes to receiving the ball; sadly, that hasn’t happened quite yet. And at the end of the day, for a goal-scoring striker, a goal every 277.5 minutes at the USL level just won’t cut it.

Claude Dielna

Claude Dielna has played just twice for T2, but it’s safe to say that his stock is rapidly dropping. His performance against Montreal last week seemed to have opened a lot of eyes, and he will surely be back to playing solely for T2 until he proves otherwise.

Dielna is a slower centerback and has been the biggest letdown out of any of the Timbers summer signings. He will need to build up confidence and showcase his skill at the USL level. Despite hardly playing with T2 as of late, he is one of the players whose stock has dropped the most and will need to prove himself once again in the USL.

Harold Hanson

Honestly, it’s hard for a player’s stock to fall in the first week, and Hanson didn’t have that bad of a past few weeks. However, he has been fairly anonymous over the last few games and has been a part of a defensive line that has done the keepers no favors.

His defense has been okay, but he only has one block and ten interceptions throughout the season. He pairs well with Madou Jadama, but is currently being outplayed by an older Roy Miller, who has done a great job with his distribution along with solid defending.