Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Late Tackle 01 11 2017: A New Timber? Plus, a Tailored Combine/Superdraft Update

I can see San Jose from of Houston.
In news of the impossible, Patrice Bernier just picked up one more year with L’Impact Montreal.

Elsewhere,’s The Kick Off topped the report of FC Dallas’ Ryan Hollingshead getting hit by a car with a playful “Ouch!”, and, surprisingly, FIFA took the “money-whore” option to expand the 2026 World Cup to include 48 teams.

Hmm…maybe MLS is changing world soccer…in bigger news…

Timbers Target A Winger
According to “sources,” the Portland Timbers have formally offered to take Sebastian Blanco off Argentinian club San Lorenzo’s hands. See usual disclosures (e.g., I don’t follow the Argentine league, therefore know nothing meaningful about this guy; I did, however, see Back Office Gavin ask another guy if he’s good for MLS, and the other guy said yes), but one phrase and some numbers in the article stand out:

“A creative midfielder capable of playing centrally or out wide, he has three goals and five assists in 11 appearances in the current Argentine Primera campaign and nine goals and eight assists in 78 appearances in all competitions in his two years with the club.”
The numbers lack a certain “pop,” so here’s to hoping that Blanco will get a little bump courtesy of the competitive quality between Argentina and MLS (does such a thing exist? Looked like it last time I watched Argentina regularly). I’m less hung up on that than caught between considering/ruing the possibilities of Blanco sharing the “3-bank” in a 4-2-3-1 with Darlington Nagbe, and Diego Valeri. The only real concern there comes with fitting all these guys’ approaches into something coherent; I mean, I see the interrupted phrase “capable of playing…out wide,” but, with Portland needing width badly as it does, that’s sort of a big deal. To reframe that, does Blanco prefer playing out wide, or is there a winger-to-be-named-later floating around out there?

Reserving judgment. For now, I’m happy to see a little (more) ambition, and will hope the whole thing ends in a "nice problem to have" scenario.

And what about new defenders, guys?

MLS SuperDraft/Combine Update
A couple more highlight reels went up for yesterday’s Combine matches between teams named for shoes (that’s the inspiration, right?): Control v. Tango and Chaos v. Copa. One thing to note there – and it’s only of note because SBI’s Mock Draft 1.0 connected the player to Portland – winger Niko Hansen had a solid outing (he fared both cold and...going with warm in the only Day 1 write-up I read). Meanwhile, The Armchair Analyst posted another stock up/stock down post after Combine Day 2. Of interest in there: defenders haven’t got many “stock up” acknowledgements thus far, which raises doubts on the Timbers finding a ready-made centerback in that particular well.

Another point of personal fascination in there: Jacori Hayes, a guy blessed with the positional “Je ne sais quoi” as Nagbe, has generally baffled Combine observers. Look, all I’m saying is that a cautionary tale exists.

UPDATE: The paragraph below? Ain't happenin'.

A Marsch in Europe (How Is This Not Bigger News?) is reporting that New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch looks to be headed to the mothership, Red Bull Salzburg. If true, that’s a pretty sweet nod to Marsch, who has shaped one of MLS’s better, more entertaining franchises. With a few more financial resources, and a presumably less-balanced league, maybe he can at least drag a team to the title. The same report says former MLS stand-out Chris Armas will replace Marsch and, as a fan of all those guys and an admirer of the team and most of its works, here’s to hoping things end serendipitously all ‘round.

Then again, this whole thing ending up with New York shooting its foot would continue the lovable “That’s so Metro” tradition.

Notes on Movements
In spite of earlier promises to clock only the speculation that applies to the Timbers, news out of San Jose feels worth flagging. Even if their swoop for either Darwin Quintero or Solomon Kalou (along with some other names) the Earthquakes show signs that they’re not willing to take last year’s boring, boring campaign sitting down. Again, same conference as Portland, so.....

Elsewhere, the Houston Dynamo’s home page introduced their considerable crop of new players to fans. The collection of new toys should pique interest all on its own, but, in going big at defender and forward, one could argue that the Dynamo has starved its midfield a little. That’s not to say they’re screwed – Houston did seek to build a better defense, and put Juan David Cabezas to cover them – and there are few things more liberating in soccer than feeling secure at the back. Still, they need someone to feed those new forwards, and are relying on guys like Ricardo Clark, Boniek Garcia, and Andrew Wenger to do it, at least so far. So, we’ll see how that shapes up.

Finally, Minnesota United signed a defender, a guy named Vadim Demidov. While I don’t know shit about him (again), he boasts the kind of resume that fans across MLS should find highly familiar (e.g. peripatetic).

All done. Barring…things I’ll be back tomorrow. Go roll in the snow, all y’all! (Goddammit. This font changing thing at the bottom of posts is driving my crazy...fuck it.)

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