Thursday, January 29, 2015

Timbers: A MLS Defenders Shopping List

Psst...give Portland Michael Parkhurst.
The whole thing with Heath Pearce shipping off to Sweden reignited a personal obsession with adding defensive depth to the Portland Timbers. Yeah, yeah, it's too late now, there's no evidence that Portland made the effort, no way of knowing whether the front office would have been willing to eat Pearce's $100K guaranteed salary, etc.

Still, Pearce perfectly fits the mold for what the Timbers need at the back: reliable, experienced on both club and country level, and, most crucially, versatile. He could have given solid cover, or even solid starting minutes, across the back-line. This isn't even his first trip to Scandinavia for crissakes. So, the man hated Orlando. Or maybe he hated MLS. In any case, that bird has flown (Note/Confession: being unfamiliar with the English use of "bird," it took me a number of years to fully understand The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood.)

Even with Pearce gone, Major League Soccer clubs have plenty of defensive talent that could be had...for a price. This is tricky because there are some players the Timbers just couldn't get. To give on example, Columbus Crew SC would never give up Michael Parkhurst, because he's too central to their system and formation. And I say that knowing that I'm talking about giving up a lot, as in Parkhurst value. You'll see. With that in mind, this post concludes with a list of defenders on the current rosters of other clubs in MLS, players I'd be happy to see in Timbers Green, or Red, according to the occasion. Most, if not all of them, are central defenders, for that is Portland's greatest need...though I do slip in one wild hair.

All that brings up the obvious question: what would I give for one of these players? For starters, after last season's Defensive Collapse Performance Art series, I'm willing to pay. On the other hand, I'd haggle properly, start low(er than I think - dang) with allocation spots (#6? That's it?), and maybe future draft picks (once I figure out how those work). If it comes to it – and, face it, it would - I have a couple players in mind who bring enough sweet, sweet value to close a deal. It’ll hurt, but one doesn’t get value without giving it. Now the hard part: naming the players.

I've already confessed that I'd give up Darlington Nagbe (even if he's now ready to lead...uh, the only place the word "lead" appears in that article is in the title; wtf?), but here are the rest:

Rodney Wallace
Gaston Fernandez

OK. Short list. I can think of other players – Ben Zemanski, maybe Jack Jewsbury – but that would force the Timbers to bundle in something else, on top of the player and that's pushing into Portland giving up too much. So, that's that...just let me state for the record that, if the Timbers shipped Nagbe or Wallace, they damn-skippy better get something jiffy in return!

OK, with terms and ground rules out of the way, here's the list of defenders. They guys with asterisks beside their name are guys I'd demand in exchange for either Nagbe or Wallace:

Drew Moor (Colorado; risk the injury? Hell, yes.)
Shane O'Neill (Colorado)*
Tyson Wahl (Columbus Crew)
Bobby Boswell (DC United)*
Stephen Keel (FC Dallas)
Zach Lloyd (FC Dallas)(tough get, but he's most Pearce-like)*
Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas)
Kofi Sarkodie (Houston)(I'd swap a full-back here; say, Villafana)
Jermaine Taylor (Houston)
Tommy Meyer (LA Galaxy)
Hassoun Camara (Montreal)
Jason Hernandez (NYCFC)
Amobi Okugo (Orlando)*
Ethan White (Philadelphia)
Clarence Goodson (another tough get)(San Jose)*
Jalil Anibaba (Sporting KC)

Think that’s everyone. Feel free to agree, disagree or add more names. Comments should work.

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