When I heard about this tournament, I was looking forward to the opportunity for the Timbers to compete in another format and see other teams outside of the league. I'd like to have seen the Timbers go further, but it would have been tough whether they were playing well or not. Kudos to Monterrey for getting as far as they did under the circumstances. I'd really like that team except for the bleep-hat who knocked D. Chara in the back of the head. I did enjoy them coming back to beat LAFC, though. If there is anything LAFC is lacking it's a ball winner in the midfield, and we have that in Paredes. He's got the quickest feet in the West. So, the tournament was cool in that they competed well against two of the top teams in Mexico, and in some ways really took it to them but the achilles heel is not so much the defense, but the lack of offense. It's tough to beat quality teams without good wing play, either scoring or providing service, and Loria and Asprilla just aren't up to snuff as starters. Because of this, the Timbers will always be in games because they are pretty good elsewhere, but the lack of offense means they do not strike fear into opposing defenses. That would change if Yimmi (who doesn't really strike fear in opposing defenses but is much better than Loria and somewhat better than Asprilla) starts, and other winger x (Antony, maybe) starts and provides some vertical threats and or good service production.

I went off the r ails on Evander early, but I stand by what I was saying, basically, and that is, he's not a 10. He's going to be or already is a really good 8. If he is able to provide offensive production from a deeper position, then perhaps he is worth the 10 million price tag. We'll see. But, it's problematic, because it forced Paredes into a weird role, sometimes playing higher, and that works sometimes, but it also shows his limitations in the final third. Maybe I am seeing it wrong. I think Gio is settling more into a 4-3-3 with Paredes and Evander as 8s and D Chara as a 6. With DC out on yellow card accumulation, I'd like to see Paredes take over DC's role and move Moreno as an 8 alongside Evander. I think the Timbers would own the midfield.

As far as the playoff push goes, I think the schedule looks actually pretty tough. As much as the Timbers look like a formidable squad, too much has gone wrong this year to really anticipate run, although, I wouldn't be surprised to see one, either. They have the potential to smother teams; they just don't know how to finish them off. I hope they can get hot.

I really appreciate how Miami plays now. It looks like Barcelona of old. They keep it and probe. Only a select few (Busquets, Messi and Alba) seem like they are authorized to hit a long ball, and it results in a structured and organized game plan that can be followed. I'm pulling for them in the Leagues Cup. I was hoping for their opponent to be Monterrey, but it looked like they ran out of gas vs Nashville.

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Aug 17, 2023·edited Aug 17, 2023

Every team below the line except for SKC has at least a game in hand on the Timbers at this point. Austin, Houston, and LAFC are gonna be really tough games (both TX games are in TX, where the Timbers last won around the time the Alamo happened), but there's also some winnable games there (COL, LAG).

If Portland don't drop stupid points against bad teams, they might be OK. If they do, they'll be in trouble quick.

I am firmly in the camp of "MLS Didn't Need Messi", but now I'm full Team Chaos - I want Miami to win this dumb Leagues Cup, I want them to get into the playoffs and utterly destroy the MLS Cup field. I want Messi to score 2 goals a game, mostly to prove to the league that their salary mechanisms are dumb, because nobody in this league prioritizes defense when they spend on their rosters.

Messi is showing that that clearly needs to change (seriously, did you see the defending - the space he was given - on his Philly goal?), and hopefully over the winter it will - the current CBA doesn't expire until 2028, but the Messification of MLS should mean a willingness to revisit that CBA this winter to address the way the salary budget is structured, among other things.

MLS wanted All Messi All The Time, let's effin give it to them. The cotton candy high of the next couple Messi-filled years will end with a wild sugar crash, and at that point, MLS can get back to being MLS again, but hopefully with better defending and more easily parsed salary rules.

In the meantime, I'm just gonna roll with the wildness of it all. It's so dumb and so fun.

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I don't know if I'm the only one, but this Messi-obsession by MLS has really started me disliking MLS because they can't talk about anything else. How many times is his picture on the MLS page right now? I count nine times!

But you're right, Miami really gamed the system and showed the weaknesses in the MLS salary structure, so maybe something good will come out of it. But generally speaking the all-Messi all the time Messi League Soccer has made me less interested in the league as a whole.

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Aug 18, 2023·edited Aug 18, 2023

100% agree. And don't forget the link to the live Messi press conference at the top! Which replaces the "become a Messi insider!" link that's usually up there.

I mean, from a marketing perspective, I fully get it - Messi attracts attention. But my point all along is that MLS didn't and doesn't need that kind of attention. Pre-Messi, MLS was a solid league that was growing steadily and doing a good job of attracting young, developing talent, particularly from Central and South America.

20 years ago, I could see the argument that "Messi will attract more talent!", but MLS in the last 5 years has been really good at that, and is steadily getting better. It didn't need the amphetamine rush it thinks it did.

Messi is unquestionably the best player of this generation, and maybe of all time, so of course it's a no-brainer to bring him to MLS if that's what he wants. But MLS' relentless obsession with him is ultimately not good for the league overall. I mean, what happens in two years when he retires? The massive influx of eyeballs and clicks they're getting now will be gone very quickly.

That's what I meant with my "sugar crash" analogy above. There is no way that a significant number of Lionel Messi superfans, who only care about MLS insofar as their favorite player is in it, are going to retain interest in MLS as a whole once Messi is gone, and I think MLS thinks that's gonna be a thing.

But the thing about soccer leagues is...most every country has one. So why would a random bunch of Argentinian Messi fans form a deep fandom with Inter Miami, that lasts after Messi is gone, when they have their own league to dive in to?

It's just wishcasting on MLS' part to assume that even 1% of the people who are new to MLS this year and spending money on MLS products because they love Messi will still be around once he's gone. The one effect that I hope his complete takeover of the league has, as I mentioned, is a reformation of the salary cap/salary rules to encourage more balanced spending up and down the roster.

We'll see, but overall I am with you in that MLS has lost something it may never get back by going the All Messi All The Time route.

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Messi absolutely benefits the league in the long term. Even if the majority of attention goes away after Messi retires or moves elsewhere, his presence (as well as Alba and Busquets) completely alters the way MLS will function. There’s already extensive talk about expanded roster rules, which is something MLS needs to really grow and expand. That doesn’t happen without Messi. We’ve now entered a new era that will stick around after Messi leaves, while also getting lots of new eyeballs. MLS will now part of world wide soccer culture and conversation more than it ever has before. More players will be attracted to coming here (which is something we’ve already seen happening, Messi is just accelerating it). And I’m willing to bet a good chunk of newcomers will become MLS fans because goddamn this league is fun as hell

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Aug 19, 2023·edited Aug 19, 2023

"MLS will now part of world wide soccer culture and conversation more than it ever has before."

See, I guess I just don't really believe that. Inter Miami currently is, because of Messi and his pals, but the league as a whole? I'm not seeing it. But I also don't believe it needs to be! I mean, there aren't a lot of people sitting around talking extensively about the Belgian league, or the Colombian league, or whatever, but that doesn't mean those leagues aren't good and fun in their own right.

MLS, and a lot of its more...hardcore fans' need for world validation (I'm not saying you're in this group, this is just an observation) absolutely drives me crazy. Who cares if MLS is "part of the world wide soccer conversation"? I mean, as I mentioned before, MLS has had no problem in recent years attracting fun, young talent to play here, despite its salary cap weirdness and roster restrictiveness. Messi didn't change that. MLS is, as you say, fun as hell; Messi didn't create that.

"(which is something we’ve already seen happening, Messi is just accelerating it)"

I get that everyone loves the dude, but let's not give him credit for something that was happening just fine on its own after (checks calendar) six weeks in the league.

If the salary cap rules ease up, that's a huge win for me.

"And I’m willing to bet a good chunk of newcomers will become MLS fans because goddamn this league is fun as hell"

Maybe, but I'm skeptical that any of those newcomers will be B) from outside the US in significant numbers or B) random fans in cities that don't have an MLS team. Soccer is still very much a niche sport in this country, and that's totally fine - but if the niche grows a bit, that's fine too.

I just don't think Messi is the singlehanded vector of change or rocket to the stratosphere that a lot of folks seem to think he is. He's a hell of a player and he's making MLS defenses look like...MLS defenses, but we'll see what the league looks like in 5 years.

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Being part of the world soccer conversation drives more players here, more agents looking for young talent here, more billionaires will want to invest in new teams... it forces US soccer to up their game, and perhaps it forces certain dipshit existing owners to say “oh hey, maybe we should put in the grass field that we’ve been talking about forever.”

Anything will grow the league faster, I don’t see any downside to any of this

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My concern is that what Miami has done (and somehow not broken the salary cap rules) is show that you can spend $60 million on one player and quite a bit on two of his teammates from the national team and be able to improve from very bad to maybe the best in the league. if that is repeated by other teams (and if there are enough top level players), then a handful of MLS teams will be spending $100 million and succeeding while everyone else spends a lot less and is not able to compete for the top. Which is particularly weird in a salary cap league. Having three teams that are almost always better than everyone else works in Europe, but I’m not sure it will be successful in the USA. Some increase in salaries is almost certainly needed by MLS, but I’m not sure that Messi-level spending will be good for MLS overall.

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"Messification" - you have to trademark that!

Yeah, thanks Beckham for bringing in three ringers to expose how good offense can take a supposedly good defense apart. I kinda hate Philly for the fact that they've been allowed to mug people for the past few years and call it good defense. Along comes a guy who can control the game (Busquets) and show how it's done. Philly tried to be "physical" and play their game, knocking Busquets and others down and then whining about it. I am glad for Miami because it is a new measuring stick, and it will open the door for other players who are considering MLS or Saudi league.

Interestingly enough, the league teams have been spending a lot on offense, and so have the Timbers, but they also went and got Araujo, too. Can't wait to see him.

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Araujo was a nice pickup. Addresses the need of a 3rd CB, which we will need going forward. Mabiala didn't do too bad this year, but it is about a year too late.

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I'm very curious to see how the Timbers come out of this break, and if we see a formation shift. I like the idea of the 4-3-3, and the potential for Yimmi to finally be healthy to contribute. We know who the back four are, so I agree that a DChara - Evander - Paredes midfield sounds really interesting. And a Moreno - Boli/Mora - YChara frontline sounds nice as well. We then have the freedom to drop Moreno back to the midfield and play Asprilla up front if needed. We finally have some position depth going forward.

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"Portland...mounts yet another late season surge up the table."

Sigh. I am so sick of this having to be a thing.

Don't get me wrong - I'm glad they played well against Liga MX teams, but I do wonder how the rust of two-plus weeks off will affect them. Hopefully they can pick up more or less where they left off, but I'm also not counting on it. We'll see if the defense has decided that they can defend for 90 min a game - if they have, this could be a fun end of the season, but if not, buckle up.

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The defensive lapses on the goals scored really could amount to some finger pointing in the direction of Mosquera. But, they fought hard with 10 men for two thirds of the game against Tigres and were neck and neck with Monterrey. Offensively is where the concern is for me.

No one talks about Miami's defense because the offense is scoring three plus goals a game. Although, the keeper is doing pretty well there, I must say.

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If Boli puts away both - hell, even one of - those chances against Monterrey, we're having an entirely different conversation. Not sure how he missed one, much less both. So yeah, hopefully there was a lot of shooting practice in the last couple weeks.

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Yes. Boli. He seems hot and cold, and not consistent. I much prefer Mora, and hope Mora is fully fit.

One forward just needs to get hot.

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I really do think this team needs to go to a 3 back system. We played good soccer and actually went on a win streak playing 3 at the back last year. And that was with mabiala. If it were me. Seeing as antony and Acosta probably won't start yet.


Evander Moreno

Bravo Paredes yimmi masquera

Mcgraw zuparic Araujo


I really do think yimmi should be in the midfield. He has good work ethic. decent distribution, and good defense. He would be good at hustling back on counter attacks and transitioning quick into attack.

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that would work well. Yimmi is an 8 to me.

JUst not sold on Boli, but he could get hot.

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The thing I have to keep reminding myself about Boli is that he wasn't brought in to be a savior. He was a stopgap until Mora was able to go a full 90. Boli's been decent overall, but now that Mora will hopefully be playing more significant minutes, Boli will be a sub or a spot starter, and he'll be fine at that. He's just not a guy to depend on for 90 min a game every week.

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Bryan Acosta will likely see time if not start this weekend. DC is (finally) getting a well-deserved rest due to yellow card accumulation. I was hoping to see a Timber produce an absence-free season, and how great would that have been to see Diego do that!

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I like the patience Gio has shown bringing in the newly acquired players slowly, Boli and Araujo. I would also like to see how Araujo does with a start. It seems like we went from good depth to the cupboards bare to some good depth again. No pressure on Acosta, just fill in when needed. I like Antony from the highlights as he does something other Timbers don’t do except Boli. He makes runs in behind. I’m real curious to watch him.

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It’ll be fascinating to see how the Timbers play coming out of leagues cup, where they played their best games of the year. Was that a fluke with the team just extra motivated for a tournament while playing at home against teams traveling a lot, or is this the type of play they can maintain? Who knows. If the team as well as they did in LC then we’re looking at a playoff team folks. For now, it’s best we stick with what’s working, and that’s the 4-3-3, and I’m fairly certain Gio will stick with that. Moreno is out this weekend with that nagging ankle injury, McGraw is questionable for an illness, Loria is having a baby, and Chara is out with YC accumulation. I expect Araujo to get his first start (which I am VERY much looking forward too, we haven’t seen much of him), I expect Acosta to start at the 6, and I expect Yimmi to start on the wing, as it’s been long enough so he should be recovered from his injury. If the 4-3-3 stops working I’d love to see us try a 3 at the back formation as others have suggested to allow Moreno to play more centrally, Araujo on the field, Mosquera higher up, and Evander sitting higher where I think he’s best at.

I’m very happy we went out into the MLS market to get a player, our team desperately needs MLS experience. I don’t know how good Acosta will be, Dallas and Colorado fans seemed to have lukewarm opinions of him at best, but that’s probably because he was originally a DP. But it’s a deal until the end of the year with an option, so if he sucks then it’s no real harm caused. Great piece of business from Ned imo. Antony will be interesting, his highlights haven’t quite done it for me, but he’s the type of player that I feel we’ve been missing. We don’t have a winger who is speedy and will run at players, put them on their back foot, and go directly to goal. Asprilla is the closest we have to that but he doesn’t have that ability anymore. I’m not in love with the signing but right now I’ll choose to be cautiously optimistic. I don’t, however, expect him to play much of a factor at all this year. Being so young and coming late in the transfer window, I think he’ll get a few minutes off the bench and maybe a start if we really need it, much like Mosquera last year. I hope I’m wrong though, I’d love to see him get plenty of minutes

This Leagues Cup break has given the Timbers a chance to restart their season. Play well now and we can make the playoffs

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Thanks for the info on Acosta. Expectations play a big part in the evaluation of a player, and since I have virtually no expectations for him beyond being a competent player he may wildly exceed those. If we get a quality player who can replace either Chara or Paredes without a drop in play, its a great move. If for some reason we get a player who can even improve the product we have a steal. Even if he provides 30 minutes of quality backup play with the occasional start it is a great acquisition.

My expectations for Antony this year is the quality of play of Ayala when he first got here. It would be great if he were to develop into a contributor next year, but until I see him on the field I just don't know what to expect.

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I agree that this is a chance for the team to reset. Hopefully Yimmi is ready to go, especially if Moreno and Loria are limited. I'm also looking forward to seeing Araujo play meaningful minutes, it would give us fans a nice chance to see what he brings.

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I can't wait for Yimmi to go either.

oh wait that's not what you meant

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I'm hoping the addition of Bryan Acosta to the midfield will really help out the depth concerns we have there. Running Chara and Paredes into the ground isn't the best strategy going forward. I don't know much about him, so I hope someone can provide more context for his play.

I'm not optimistic that Antony will be able to provide much of a spark this year. I seem to recall looking at some "highlights" and just didn't see much that makes me think he will be a real spark for the team. I'm hoping he is on the Ayala track where he gets some minutes and give us solid play on the wing, potentially becoming solid depth next year.

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Yes, the Acosta pick up is a good one, and I think it will work out well. I think he has a good resume. He was a starter at his other stops and has earned some caps. It will give Gio some options and give DC and Paredes less workload like you say.

As for Antony - who knows how he will perform and whether he is in good shape. I think there will be a bump with him. I just like how he runs - he's very smooth, as opposed to Asprilla, who looks like he is laboring. And he seems like an attacker, like he is going for goal and he won't stop until someone actually stops his progress. So, it seems like he has a mentality to attack.

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It was great to have Mora back. Hopefully when MLS resumes he will be able to go 90 minutes instead of playing quite a bit less. He’s the most dangerous forward on the team and the defense has to pay attention to him while often losing contact with Portland’s other attackers. Boli continued to get opportunities in the League’s Cup, while Evander and Moreno (vs. Monterrey) showed quality skill. Evander has to avoid yellows and Moreno needs to maintain the momentum from his work against Monterrey.

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I didn't figure Mora would be 90 min fit until after the LC, so he seems to be right on track. I will be very curious to see, if after all this time off, he's still as dangerous as he was - we may have to wait until next year to see that in full, but getting 90 min/night out of him now will be a very good start.

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it's been so long since they played I had totally forgotten about the new guys...hahaha. I'd be happy with any contribution from them, really - even if they're just depth this year while they're adjusting to their new situation, any contribution that can stop the rot would be helpful. I don't know much about either of them, but I like the concepts of both of them within this team, so we'll see over the next couple months if concept can turn into reality.

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