37 Comments
Apr 7, 2023Liked by Alex Barnes

Nice write up Alex.

Based on your story, it sounds like in the Vancouver game Boli will come on at the 45 or 60 mark for ... one of Niezgoda, Ikoba or Fogaca. I wouldn't mind seeing Ikoba start; he's the only one in the group who hasn't so far. Let's see what you've got young man. And if you are scoring goals, then stay on and sub off somebody else, move to wing or as a second forward - like a 4-3-1-2.

Once Boli is fully fit, there isn't any question he's the answer this year to the striker question and seems suited to the team. He's a dribbler, an attacker and a scorer and this may work out for him and the Timbers very well. He has experience. That makes Niezgoda expendable. Would Boli be here if Niezgoda were banging in goals? Unless Niezgoda turns into a scoring machine, he's out, maybe by the summer window. It will be better to develop the young talent than hope for Niezgoda's former self to return.

Expand full comment

It’s too soon to get excited about Boli but I’m not encouraged by how I’ve heard his play described. I really dislike the target forward, hold-up forward, or poacher styles of strikers. Every forward should have different tools in their box but the over-emphasis and reliance on those styles is antiquated, ugly, doesn’t seem to fit our personnel, and is arguably ineffective. I prefer a striker that can create their own chances, press, track back, beat opponents on the dribble AND be opportunistic. I like Fogaça aside from the finishing, which ultimately means I don’t like him. Hopefully he improves, but I don’t know how likely that is at this point. I don’t have enough Ikoba to go on either. I like Mora except for the injuries, which may ultimately mean I don’t like him. Niezgoda isn’t helped by our inability to get him the ball but he also seems a shell of his former self when he does get it, lacking confidence, fearing further injury, or just being out of form.

I’m also discouraged by talk of Evander as a CAM/10. I know we need someone who can perform that role but it’s outdated and limiting to depend so much on one playmaker. I’m encouraged by the creativity of Santi and Williamson, and hope Blanco contributes something if he ever comes back, but our other attackers seem too one-dimensional. For a while it seemed like we might have a swarm of bees interchanging in the attack. Lately it’s seemed more like most players are just going to run toward the touch line to be on either end of a speculative cross. It’s freaking boring.

We’ve been promised some brand of possession-oriented, passing, pressing, attacking football for nearly 10-years now but have rarely achieved more than route one hoof and prayer ball or counterattacks. We are far too predictable.

I have no idea what our style or philosophy are supposed to be. I just see how regressive it looks. Sometimes I’d rather lose pretty than win ugly. The results matter but I also want to see good, entertaining, games. When we win it’s too often like a sad handjob.

Expand full comment

I'm definitely going to vote for Franck Boli. Watch his films and you'll see he's a multifaceted player that can regularly nutmeg goalkeepers. He's got shots, strong ones. He can be fed the ball, dribble and strike or clean up shots. Let him take the position and lose it. But I don't think he will. He will definitely give us facets of the game better than Niezgoda. I also think he will open up shots for others like Asprilla, Yimmi, Evander, Moreno or teamed with Nathan or Ikoba or later Mora. Evander, Asprilla, Moreno, Mora or Williamson can feed him, he will draw defenders but can still score authoritatively. I think Boli will be this years answer and next. I think he has tools to be a GK humbler. Let him play.

Expand full comment

I think Boli is this year's answer. I don't think he's the long-term answer. I thought that would be Mora, but after such a long layoff I sorta think he'll be a complementary piece rather than the focus of the attack. If they can hoodwink someone into taking Niezgoda off their hands, they have money to play with and can find a more permanent answer this summer.

I would honestly give minutes to Ikoba at this point. Let him grow into being the answer and use Boli to take the pressure off Ikoba a little bit as he develops.

Expand full comment

How many more losses does the team need to see before realizing that something different, tactically and personnel-wise, needs to happen? If not now, when is this magic moment? I like the idea of two strikers up top, with Boli being one of them. IMO, it's obvious that Niezgoda can't be the answer, and our lack of scoring points to tactical deficiency.

Expand full comment

A tough question about our forward options Alex. Mora has been out for two years, so we only have memories to base his come back on. Boli has what, seven minutes of play? I'm sure we all hope he gives us a BFerandez level of attack. Ikoba, although young, has great size and speed showing, perhaps the most potential. Fogaca, definitely a work horse, needs to improve on his goals/finishing. Niezgoda, like Mora, has fonder memories than his current offerings. Based on what we have 'today', I'd lean towards Boli up top based on his experience. His one and only shot/goal, to me, showed great instincts and reaction. (Giving him the benefit of the doubt that it wasn't all just luck.)

Expand full comment

5 shots on target since July? Damn, that’s an insane stat for a DP/high TAM striker. If by summer he’s not clicking with Evander on the field (which was the hope for him going into this year) then we need to find a way to move on from him so we can make other moves to reinforce the roster, because we all know we need that. I’m getting skeptical that we will be adding a CB this window since there’s been no news on that front, and I assume budget is making that difficult.

I think Boli should be ready to start vs Seattle next week, he’s gotta be the clear #1 right now with Nathan and Ikoba as worthwhile projects to keep around. I’m not going to factor in Mora until we see how he is once he comes back

Expand full comment

Beggars can't be choosers - and even with all the other problems PTFC are clearly begging to have a striker step up.

By this point I've seen enough of Niezgoda. Whatever the reason, he will not/cannot be the answer to this dilemma - so sad to say, but I feel he should sit until/unless further emergencies dictate otherwise.

The current injury/rehab situation dictates that we're gonna play 'striker by committee' for at least the next 5-6 matches; and it seems we'll be seeing 3 strikers in the next 2-3 due to minutes restrictions as everyone works back into full game shape.

So, it's an ideal time for a trial by fire - let's see who will step up to lead the line.

Expand full comment
founding

I definitely would move on from Nogooda (as quickly as possible because Gio is prone to putting him into the game and things seem to go South when that happens). I don't know that I'm a fan of Gio's preference for only playing one striker at a time. I'd start Boli and either Nathan of Asprilla along with him and see if that lights any fires.

Expand full comment

Definitely the question of the moment. From a personal point of view, I would start with Boli and have Ikoba and Niezgoda as the backups. I honestly don't expect much from Mora this year, he really hasn't played in 2 years. And while Nathan has been more effective than Niezgoda, I think Niezgoda has a better track record. If we move on from Niezgoda, which I think we are going to by the end of the year, then we have Mora/Nathan as the 3rd striker on the team.

Expand full comment
Apr 7, 2023·edited Apr 7, 2023

Ikoba and Nathan are fringe MLS guys. Though it would be nice to see Ikoba get a little more run. I don’t think they represent any sort of significant concern about a log jam.

Boli is an unknown as is Mora. Niezgoda has shown some good things here, but has the yips or sucks now plus his poor fit to roster and tactics.

So basically we have lots of guys and no proven talent. Quantity is good, quality—ehhhhhh.

Hopefully by the end of the summer it’s Boli (and he’s good) Mora, and some other guy who has a chance to be an MLS contributor, with Ikoba and Nathan as emergency depth and Niezgoda can figure things out elsewhere.

Seeing more Dairon up top isn’t a non-starter for me. But now we’re so thin at midfield we need him in his usual spot.

Expand full comment

We often give “savior” status to whoever scores a goal for us. Then reality sits in. We did this for Niezgoda and others. We should acclimate Frank slowly. Thought the same for Evander but with the injury he’s had a chance to step back. Until there’s consistency, then none are the answer. But without a Hernandez type, we’re all just hoping like usual.

Expand full comment