There has been
crazy amounts of some talk this week about possible lineups for the Portland Timbers. The 4-4-2, the 4-3-3, the 4-5-1, and even the Portland Thorns inspired 3-6-1 have been thrown around and debated ad nauseam.
With the Timbers on the road and headed to the Empire State to take on New York City FC, let's take a moment to consolidate our theoretical line up changes into one spot. Whether it is what you would do, or what you think the Timbers will do, share your starting XI in the comments below.
I'll get things started, but first, a stipulation.
No injured players. This is all about the here and the now. The impending returns of Diego Valeri and Will Johnson will certainly impact the starting XI, but, like the team, let's not look past this weekend. That also includes Ben Zemanski and Michael Nanchoff.
First, this has no bearing on what I think the Timbers will do on Sunday, even though I do think there will be several changes from last weekend's starting XI. This is, instead, just something I would like to see run out. We'll get to why in just a second.
The lineup itself: Adam Kwarasey; Jorge Villafana, Liam Ridgewell, Nat Borchers, Alvas Powell; Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara; Ishmael Yartey, Gaston Fernandez, Darlington Nagbe; Maximiliano Urruti
The back four here has to remain steady. While I think there are compelling arguments to be made for involving Jeanderson and even Norberto Paparatto in the discussion, I just can't justify breaking up a group that always seems to be just a step away from having things go their way. Last game may have seen some bad decisions in bad situations, but I generally think this group, properly supported, should be able to provide a solid base for the Timbers to build on.
In the midfield, the Timbers have to go with Jewsbury. After a failure to adjust to Orlando City last weekend and some generally poor decision making from the rest of the team, the Timbers need a player like Jewsbury on the field to recognize the situations that are developing in the run of play and deal with them, rather than waiting for an adjustment from Porter and company to do so.
Moreover, having Jewsbury as a steady presence in front of the defense frees up Diego Chara to do what he does best: roaming the field, winning balls, and facilitating possession.
A more free role for Chara becomes even more imperative when looking at the proposed front four: with Yartey and Nagbe both looking to attack the box, and Fernandez and Urruti forming a more traditional striker-second striker pairing than Urruti and Fanendo Adi in the box, the Timbers will have plenty of players gravitating toward the center of the pitch.
Width will come from the Timbers' fullbacks, Villafana and Powell, but they will need support further up the pitch as they commit to the attack, something that Chara is excellent at providing when not tethered to the Timbers back line.
Overall, I think this lineup should provide a solid defensive core while putting together an attacking group. It may not be the Timbers' top talent all on the field at once as the team misses out on Adi and Rodney Wallace, but I think it is a group that would play well together and would mesh in a way that the Timbers have struggled to do on the pitch at times this year.
There's the lineup I'd love to see. Share yours in the comments below.