MLS' salary cap can't keep pace with roster evolution
The Final Third
Melano’s time up in Portland?
Among the many interesting things Porter covered in our interview was the areas the team will target this offseason. Among them: both wings. More specifically, Porter said the Timbers needed “wingers that help us execute our style of play. We want to press and if the wingers don’t press then it doesn’t work.”
That Portland will be looking for two wingers brings up an obvious follow-up: What does that mean for 23-year-old Lucas Melano, for whom the Timbers paid a reported $5 million. Melano had three goals and five assists this season.
“The question is, is Luca going to be a fit long-term?” Porter said. “That’s an obvious one. He started a lot of games, 27 games, and the production wasn’t always there, the defending wasn’t always there. So we have to look at, with all the players, was the performance good enough moving forward? If it’s not, we have to make changes. So with Luca I think those are some discussions in the offseason. He’s now had a year and a half. We know he’s a good player, we know he’s talented. We know he brings things to the table, pace, that we’re looking for, that can help us. We’ve seen it in some games. When I look at the 4-2 win at Seattle when we scored four goals in the first half, he was probably the best player on the field. But then I look at other games where it wasn’t there, a lot of other games.
“We need consistency, and we need both sides of the ball. There’s no, in this modern game, guys that don’t defend. For me it’s the balance of everything, and there were times we didn’t have that balance. … Those are things we have to look at. Can we get balance out of Luca where he’s scoring, where he’s defending; dangerous, but also balanced in helping us defend.”
A lot of things went wrong for Portland. They were hampered by injuries. They played 30 different lineups in a 34-game season. They fell a game short of the playoffs. Missing out on the postseason, though, doesn’t mean blowing up the roster. It might mean some tweaks, and moving on from Melano would certainly count as the biggest one, if Portland goes in that direction.
On the shopping list this offseason: two wingers, a center back and a holding midfielder…plus building the bench.
Berhalter: Pulisic is 'legit'
Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter spent seven years playing professionally in Germany, so he has a unique perspective when it comes to what Christian Pulisic will face as he builds his career overseas.
I asked Berhalter what he thinks about how playing in Germany will help Pulisic’s soccer education, and what makes it a unique environment.
“Germany right now is in a youth movement where they are not afraid to play young players, they’re not afraid to give young players chances. That’s one thing. The second thing is Germans are tough and it’s survival of the fittest in Germany. So if you can’t survive, you’re out. That’s the mentality there. You see if a 17-year-old can fight through that and get to where he is, he’s got the mentality side of it down.”
Berhalter also mentioned he was quite impressed with what he saw of Pulisic in Columbus.
“Watching him in training these last couple days, he’s a phenomenal player,” Berhalter told FourFourTwo. “He’s legit. So it’s been nice watching him and seeing up close just how good he is.”
Quote of the week: “The fact is, we lost two games. There is a lot of talk from people who don’t understand soccer or the team.” – Jurgen Klinsmann to Sam Borden of the New York Times. It’s ridiculous that Klinsmann always goes to this when he is criticized. Imagine how he’d handle the two World Cup qualifying losses if he worked in Europe. The trips to his local butcher would be a nightmare.
Soccer read of the week: There were a couple good soccer reads this week. This story on refugee soccer players in Kansas City was my favorite.
This story from Steven Goff of The Washington Post was a fun read, too.
Non-soccer read of the week: Fake news on Facebook, and the people who create it.
Paul Tenorio is a reporter for FourFourTwo. He works as a freelance reporter on Fire home TV broadcasts. Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulTenorio.