Kalif Alhassan is one of the longest serving players with the Portland Timbers, having joined the team back in the USL era as an 18 year-old.
2012 Rank: #9
After seeing only spotty playing time in 2012 when he played in 15 matches for the Timbers, Kalif was back in the thick of things this year. In the 30 matches that he played in 2013, 15 of which he started, Kalif scored 3 goals and chipped in three assists over the course of the season. Of those three goals, a career high, the third was the most memorable: a volleyed shot past Marcus Hahnemann to give the Timbers the 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders.
Under Caleb Porter, Kalif was played all over the midfield this year, seeing time on both flanks or occasionally taking over the offense from the center of the pitch. As the first man off the bench in Porter's ideal line-up, Kalif was generally brought in with one of two different responsibilities: to either create chances as the Timbers push forward, or to hold-up the ball and maintain possession with simple passing as the Timbers kill off the game, both of which he did better this year than in 2012.
Kalif seems to still be growing as a footballer and most of the scored above reflect that. This season we saw him take a step forward on the mental side of the game; defending better and less often trying to dribble through three or four players at a time. There is still plenty of room for improvement from Kalif and Porter seems to be the man to get the best out of him.
With Steve Zakuani arriving to take over for the injured Rodney Wallace on the left wing, and Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe comprising the rest of the Timbers' attacking midfield, Kalif will continue to be the first man off the bench for the Timbers in 2014. He will certainly, however, be called on to step into all of those spots over the course of the season.