Portland Timbers’ Backline Tested Early This Season: Fan Take

The Portland Timbers added greatly to what they could bring offensively this season with the additions of Kris Boyd at forward and Franck Songo'o in the midfield and the better play of Darlington Nagbe and Kalif Alhassan, but without a strong backline, the impact is lessened.

It's not fair to pin the loss against the New England Revolution March 24 on the backline as almost the entire team seemed a little off for most of the contest. Still, there were more than a few plays that caused concern at the back and could have resulted in more goals for the Revs.

"We've got to move forward now," head coach John Spencer said. "It's one of those games, rarely do they happen, when everyone on the field wasn't playing well."

Thin in the depth department

Eric Brunner, usually fairly solid, made uncharacteristic mistakes. Hanyer Mosquera was knocked out of the game in the 21st minute when he was hit in the face. Mosquera was contesting a ball with New England's Blake Brettschneider. Rookie Andrew Jean-Baptiste came in for Mosquera and did fairly well, but the options are stretched much thinner than Spencer would like.

He was diagnosed with a non-displaced, medial orbit fracture and a concussion, the team announced the following Monday. It's not certain how long he will be out. The face fracture will be something they can definitely put a timeline on, but concussions can be tricky, even when they are first thought of as minor.

Futty still out

Mamadou "Futty" Danso is still out, recovering from a broken bone in his foot. He will be gone for at least another couple of weeks. Add on to that the fact that David Horst isn't likely to be available until sometime in the summer, and the margins for adjustment are smaller. If there's another injury to a key player in the back, the Timbers could have real problems.

They will get a big test at home on the pitch of Jeld-Wen Field for their next game. Real Salt Lake will be in town March 31, and isn't a team that will allow the other side to get away with any weakness. In spite of the loss at New England the Timbers are still of course very much in the hunt in the Western Conference. A win vs. RSL at home would go along way toward keeping Portland there.

Jeff Musall became a fan of the Portland Timbers after moving to the area in 2001. He is excited about the second MLS season and wants to see a playoff run.

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Updated Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012