Portland Timbers

Tantalizing or Total Bollocks… You decide – My starting 11

In considering a path forward for the Portland Timbers the remainder of this year there is one thing very clear the back-four need revamped.

Now I don’t propose to have ‘the solution’; but here’s a lineup I’ve been pinging about in my grey matter the last few days… recognizing that DEFENSE comes first!

Starting Right Fullback – Diego Chara – adds significant speed to the wings while adding significant skills in tackling and defending – can shut down, literally, any winger in this league.

Starting Right Center-back – Norberto Paparatto – while not the most gifted when it comes to speed his aerial abilities are not surpassed by many – and while he’s not completely used to the physical nature of the game he can hold his own provided he has support both atop, to his left and to his right.

Starting Left Center-back – Liam Ridgewell – most know by now what he brings to the pitch – no need to embellish.

Starting Left Fullback – Will Johnson – adds significant speed to the wings while adding significant skills in tackling and defending – can shut down, literally, any winger in this league.

Bucket 4 Midfield with two striker tandem that can also convert to a Diamond 4 midfield midstream…

Starting Right and Left Midfielder – doesn’t matter – Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe – the two best players on the team and their presence is needed not only for leadership but individual skills they bring in their ability to ‘change the game’…

Starting inside Midfielders – Rodney Wallace and Michael Nanchoff – yeh; I get it – some may poo-poo Michael Nanchoff but he brings grit and a left-foot to the team to maximize rotational play within either a Diamond or Bucket — and he’s better defensively than Zakuani in most cases.  I think we all know and agree what Rodney Wallace brings to the pitch; the kicker is his replacement when away on national team duties – is it Ben Zemanski or Steve Zakuani?

Starting strikers – tandem – Adi and Fernandez as a first option – clearly the physical presence of a big striker is needed and he has good feet and very good vision – one only has to look at other successful teams in this league to see that there is value in having a solid/physical striker – especially when running a two striker formation.

Bench – (1) Zemanski or (1) Zakuani, (2) Jewsbury (late defensive midfield replacement), (3) Villafana – late left sided winger or defensive replacement, (4) Kah – late center-back replacement, (5) Powell – late right sided winger or defensive replacement (at a push), (6) Urruti – late striker/winger replacement (7) Gleeson or Weber…

In Closing…

Now I don’t profess to offer that this is the only mix that adds value from a defensive standpoint and it’s certainly not my call.

But here’s the thing – something needs to change as it is clear the back four – combined with the midfield support in getting behind the ball, when losing the ball, is not quick enough to shut down highly skilled opponents.

Winning games and making the playoffs is a good thing – winning Championships is another level completely.

All said and done it is reasonable that the Timbers can make the playoffs without significant changes in the back-four this year, but it’s also reasonable that the Timbers won’t make the playoffs without making significant changes in the back four this year.

All the players on this team have quality, if they didn’t they wouldn’t be on this team – the blend of that quality plus the blend of a good chemistry is always a challenge.  This offering is not intended to second guess though it probably appears that way – it’s more to represent that, from a different view, there are other ways to operate.

From a tactical standpoint – the fullback position – in my view – is one of the most under-rated/under-valued positions in Major League Soccer.  All you need to do to quantify that is look at the MLS Best XI each year.

It’s a 3-4-3; a formation and lineup that absolutely no team in MLS plays – why do they do that – in my view to glorify the goal scorers and the players who offer assists.

Goal scoring is secondary in this game – goal prevention is primary.

Best, Chris

Chris Gluck

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

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