Michael Orr of the Timber's blog Stumptown Footy was kind enough to join us for a Three Questions segment ahead of the teams meetup this Sunday in Carson. Michael is also the co-host of the NASN Portland Timbers podcast Soccer Made in Portland. Thank you very much for your time, Michael!
Click here to read the Goat Parade's responses to their questions.
The Goat Parade: Which Timber would get your vote for the Newcomer of the Year? Why?
Stumptown Footy: There certainly are plenty of good candidates for this award including the club's captain (Will Johnson), leading scorer (Ryan Johnson) and Designated Player (Diego Valeri).
At this point, it's probably fair to suggest that Valeri has been the best of them. With six goals and twelve assists (the club's record in its short MLS era), Valeri has the Timbers' most dangerous player and has made his Designated Player status worth it in his overall impact on games.
Beyond the statistics, Valeri is the key component to Caleb Porter's attacking system.
Without his influence, Portland's offense would be far less proficient.
GP: Former Chivas USA player Sal Zizzo has recovered from his ACL injury and has gotten a few looks at right back. Do you think this is a permanent solution or a stop-gap?
Sal Zizzo at right back is definitely a stop-gap, though he has played the position quite a few times in substitute appearances and in the reserves before starting there last weekend against Toronto FC.
With Jack Jewsbury and Ryan Miller injured, Alvas Powell with Jamaica for World Cup qualifying and Ben Zemanski suspended, there were few other options for right back last Saturday night.
Zizzo did well and has a lot to contribute at that position but as the season winds down and games get even more important, Caleb Porter is going to want to use a right back who is a better fit in the position and can defend against very strong attacking teams.
That Zizzo needed to step in against Toronto was probably good luck for the Timbers, given their overall lack of scoring threats.
GP: In 2011 Chivas USA rookie Zarek Valentin, "graduated" from Generation adidas because his playing time topped 2,000 minutes. Its MLS so who knows if that's a hard-and-fast rule? Darlington Nagbe and Andrew Jean-Baptiste and both Generation adidas players who have already topped the 2,000 minute mark. Do you think the Timbers can handle the hit to their salary cap?
Not sure anyone fully understands the Generation adidas program. Darlington Nagbe has played over 6600 minutes in his 88 games while Andrew Jean-Baptiste has already come close to 2500 minutes in 30 MLS games.
By any definition, Nagbe should be well out of the program and after playing almost every game this season, one would expect Jean-Baptiste would be too. Nagbe makes four times more than Jean-Baptiste, so in the short-term, his salary would be a bigger deal but at some point soon, Jean-Baptiste will need to sign an extension and that will be costly.
Luckily for the Timbers, general manager Gavin Wilkinson has collected the most allocation money in the league, according to Merritt Paulson, and will be able to use that to buy down bigger, non-DP contracts.
In fact, the team is already doing that this year in order to accommodate multiple big money contracts. The Generation adidas program has been extremely helpful for Portland thus far in MLS but it's more likely that the club will use Home Grown Players to maneuver through the difficulties of life under the salary cap in 2014.