Nat Borchers, also known as 'The Beard', is one of the most tenured defenders in Major League Soccer. Today, Borchers is known as one of the toughest veteran center backs in the league and for good reason. As one of the most newsworthy pickups of the offseason for the Portland Timbers, we will take a look at how he is doing with his new club.
'The Beard' entered the MLS in 2003 with the Colorado Rapids with a respectable season playing the majority of the games In his rookie year.
Borchers left MLS in 2007-2008 for a short stint with Norwegian club Odds Ballklubb before returning to his native country to play for Real Salt Lake in 2009, staying with the side until 2014. This would begin one of the longest stints for a defender in MLS and in the end put him in third for most appearances for the Utah-based club.
In 2014 Real Salt Lake traded Borchers to the Timbers for allocation money in a move Borchers heavily played a role in deciding. Since then Timber fans have fully embraced 'The Beard' and his gritty defensive leadership.
The question is now a third of the way through the season how has he been stacking up at his new club? Many may be surprised to find out that if he continues to contribute at his current rate and consistency this could be the best season of Borchers career yet.
Borchers has played 299 games since his rookie season in MLS, and started all but one of those games. That game was his rookie season. Since then Borchers has played an average of 28.8 games a year with his shortest two seasons being his rookie season in 2003 of 23 games, and his 2012 season of 28 games. Wherever Borchers has been over the years he has been relied upon to be a rock in the center of his team's defense.
This season for Portland 'The Beard' has started every single game and played every single minute possible.
Borchers is a part of a pair that is the core of the Timber defense with English football veteran Liam Ridgewell. Together they have been a powerhouse on the backline in MLS.
When it comes to becoming a part of the attack this year, Borchers is on track to have his best season ever. Currently a third of the way through the MLS regular season, Borchers has already accrued two goals. Borchers current best goal scoring season was in 2011 with three goals. Borchers has twenty-three more games this season in which to score two more.
On the defensive end Portland as a whole has not been at its worst, currently they sit in the middle of the table in goals conceeded. There have been issues defensively, but the backline has been signifigantly vitalized with Borchers' entry into the team this year along with Norwegian-Ghanian keeper Adam Kwarasey.
In adition to Borchers and the back line as whole avoiding goals, he has some other interesting stats.
Borcher's weakest area defensively is aggressively tackling which has been historically low for a while at .8 tackles per game.
On the other hand, his interceptions and clearances have been historically high. His interceptions per game are sitting at a nice 1.6 per game which is nearly double of his partner in crime, Liam Ridgewell. Borcher's clearances also sit a respectable 5.5 per game this season which is quite close to Ridgewells who sits at 6.1 per game.
In review of the first third of Nat Borcher's first season with Portland, most would agree he has been a worthy pick up. Borchers has been the rock in the defense Portland needed to maintain cohesion and structure when times get tough.
Lets hope at the end of this season he lives up to the stats hes setting himself up for now.
Stats: MLS.com, whoscored.com