Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Late Tackle 01 05 2017: On Roster Rebuilds, Youth, and The Bruce's Penultimate January Camp

Another day, another post, some trades, some U.S. Men’s National Team crap…

Leoardo, Roy. Roy, Leanardo
Whenever I felt bad about the Portland Timbers’ chances last year, I could look south, then a little east…no, more, where I’d see the Houston Dynamo. In those dark minutes (don’t like to dwell), I could tell myself, “hey, it could be worse, I could be a Dynamo fan.” These flashes of superiority lasted right up to the moment when Portland tripped over the same red, velvet rope as Houston, the one that keeps teams out of the playoffs.

Having heard whispers of a “total rebuild” down in Dynamo-land, seeing them add Leonardo from the Los Angeles Galaxy reads like going cheap on parts. So, in the context of “total rebuild,” I dug a little deeper, spotting two more names in the report on Leonardo, Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. They’re both young, Honduran attackers, not exactly the hottest names in the transfer market, plus, how many young players come to MLS only to flame out? In search of where the there is here, I finally dragged my lazy ass over to the Dynamo’s current roster, where I found still more names: Adolfo Machado, Juan David Cabezas, even Eric Alexander, who might not be the best player MLS has ever seen, but he’s smart, reliable depth, and a gamer with the right people around him.

Even if you think Portland’s in a slightly shinier boat than Houston heading into 2017, the Dynamo appears well ahead and seeing, and addressing, the need for repairs. If this were just a case of weighing Leonardo as a pickup versus Portland’s latest, Roy Miller, it’d be one thing. Sure, every one of the Dynamo’s reinforcements might go bust, but I wouldn’t count on it. So, yeah, pick it up, Portland.

And Go Bigger than This
Looks like the 2017 Superdraft comes in just under one week (January 11, plus...something) and, here, my first thought tops this section – i.e., I think the Timbers need more than a couple rookies to achieve that certain sense of security any team/fan-base should want heading into a season. Seeing Soccer By Ives connect Portland to Niko Hansen, a winger, in its mock draft 1.0 feels like a reprise of last year’s draft, only last year, the Timbers had some logic and MLS Cup by way of security.

Portland addressed one area of real concern with David Guzman, who at the very least should afford some flexibility to shuffle existing pieces to better places. When it comes to their two remaining areas of need – central defense and a winger – I’ll feel way, way better seeing actual, off-the-shelf starters in both roles, and that’s at a minimum. Rodney Wallace would definitely apply but, even then, I’d feel antsy about the team’s depth at wing. And even if Rennico Clarke steps into a starting role, I want brighter talent in the safety net than Roy Miller and Jermaine Taylor.

Since I’m on this, I thought I’d also link to the Top 10 Prospects List Will Parchman posted for You'll see a fair amount of overlap between the two lists, and that's to be expected, because small pool. I know jack and shit about any of these guys – and I’m certainly not against adding a winger or defender…just better not stop there.

When The Bruce Comes A-Courtin’
Bruce Arena called his first January Camp in the Bruce 2.0 Era and it should make fans and lovers of MLS feel the relief of having a National Team coach who’s willing to hug us back (I feel so…safe in these arms….nodding off). Arena didn’t miss any major names, I suppose (have a couple from the New England Revolution in my mind, but those are fair omissions), and he’ll have to cull this thing to a game-day roster for the upcoming friendlies (uh, is it Serbia and the end of January, and Jamaica in earliest February?), but that shouldn’t come too hard.

It could help, in fact, with what strikes me as a messy glut of midfielders – e.g., how to fit any of Darlington Nagbe, Sebastian Lletget, Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Wil Trapp, etc. into one midfield without turning it into one of those super-groups musicians scare up to honor the dead? Even as I understand that this will be a plug-‘n’-play situation (e.g. parts that sort of butt together by way of approach and talents won’t play in the same eleven), this still feels like a lot to sort out. I guess there’s Chris Pontius and Kekuta Manneh as wingers, but…well, it gets thin thereafter.

Eh, he’ll sort it out, Bruce will, and guide the U.S. through the Hexagonal’s soft patch…right?

After that, I just have a stray note or two: please, no more Chris Wondolowski, Jermaine Jones, Brad Evans, or even Nick Rimando. Well, maybe keep Rimando. The other guys, though, need to make way between form and age…and I write that knowing that Jones would kick my ass for saying it.

All right. All for today. Still perfecting the system. More to the point, though, I’m ready for some goddamn games. Let’s get that ass shaking, calendar…

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