The number of players on the Portland Timbers last season who scored seven or more goals was unprecedented in the history of Major League Soccer. No team had previously had five players score seven or more goals, nor had any had four players score nine or more.
Now, however, one of those players is gone from the team and another is currently returning from a torn ACL and the ensuing offseason surgery. So who will lead the Timbers in scoring this year?
2013 Goals: 10
Before Valeri's 2013 haul of ten goals, no Timbers player had scored in the double digits in a single season since the team joined Major League Soccer in 2011. Last year Valeri kept on scoring despite a painful sports hernia that dogged him for the latter half of the season, so a hopefully injury-free season could see him reach even greater heights.
2013 Goals: 9
In 2011, his rookie campaign, Nagbe scored two goals. In 2012 he scored six. In 2013 he scored nine. My loose grip on "math" says that this year he will score at least twelve.
2013 Goals: 1
Urruti may only have had one goal last year, but then he only played in five games for the Timbers, barely cracking three hundred minutes with the team. This year he will be up top, running players down and, if what we saw in 2013 and the preseason this year is any indication, that pressure will pay dividends.
2013 Goals: N/A
La Gata has not exactly flooded the field with goals so far, but he will be in position to score them, particularly when given the top spot in the Timbers' free flowing offensive formation. It looks like Fernandez will also have his fair share of free kick opportunities alongside Valeri and Will Johnson. It may take him some time to find the pace of MLS, but if he can do so, Fernandez will be a real scoring threat.
The Dark Horses
2013 Goals: 0
Everyone remembers the tackle that destroyed Zakuani's leg and derailed his promising career. Since his return from that injury, Zakuani has struggled to stay healthy and to recapture the magic that he brought to the wing for the Sounders. This year Zakuani not only has another chance at getting back up to speed, he will be doing so under the guidance of his college coach, under whom he scored 20 goals with Akron in his sophomore year before deciding to turn pro.
2013 Goals: 9
The Timbers' captain will need to be very industrious to equal his 2013 goal scoring record, a career high for the long-time pro. Still, Johnson makes late arriving runs better than anyone and, with the Timbers' attacking four buzzing around the box, he will have plenty of opportunities to score this year.
2013 Goals: 7
He may be coming back from a heart-breaking conference final injury, but Rodney Wallace is well on his way to being fit and ready. When he does return, Wallace will bring a direct style of play that should compliment the rest of the attacking unit well.
2013 Goals: 1
If you can score four goals in a single half, even against lower level opponents, you should be able to rack up some goals. Piquionne will have some struggles as he does not seem to fit the mold of Porter's ideal striker, but as the best aerial threat on the pitch, Piq should do well with the service that players like Valeri and Fernandez are capable of providing.
Who do you think will be the Timbers' leading scorer in the 2014 season?