Previous Year Recap
Dos Diegos are another year older. Blanco is returning from a season ending ACL injury. Felipe Mora is the only healthy striker and there are two shiny new outside backs to pick from, Van Rankin and Bravo. Yimmi Chara is coming off of a hot CCL round. Steve Clark is your ‘keeper. The center of the defense, Mabiala and Zuparic, are uninspiring holdovers from last year. The supporting cast of Williamson, Polo, Zambrano, Loria, Paredes and “Mr. November “Dairon Asprilla are still kicking around, but aren’t strong fantasy choices
Fantasy Players to Watch
Goalkeeper: Steve Clark has won the job. Attinella is still in the wings and is the likely backup as Ivacic just had sports hernia surgery and will be out for a few weeks. I think New keeper Sulte is a great scrub keeper that won’t see any 1st team minutes this year. Expect Clark to start every game unless Portland goes far in CCL and Attinella gets some time to let Clark rest. Clark had a solid year last year (6th overall in total points with an average of 5pts/game) and is a decent choice for a late keeper if the Timbers are playing at home and your early keeper blows the clean sheet.
Defense: New additions Jose Carlos Van Rankin and Claudio Bravo add some dynamism on the flanks. Van Rankin came away from first round CCL play with a pair of assists and looked very good going forward. I would rate him higher than Bravo and worth the extra $0.5M. Bonilla is definitely going to be relegated to the bench and some spot starts now that Portland spent money on both outside back positions. In the middle are Zuparic and Mabiala. Both are unspectacular and haven’t set themselves up as set piece threats going forward. Van Rankin is my only current recommendation from the Portland defense.
Midfielders: Diegoe Valeri is still the beating heart of Portland’s midfield. He is on all set pieces and corner kicks so far this year and we can expect he is still on PKs. My only concern about picking Valeri any week is that he is not a young man anymore and last year was an occasional healthy scratch in midweek games to rest his legs. Portland often plays in later games, so when Valeri is rested, there is a lot of scrambling to replace him. Yimmi Chara, Diego’s older, shorter brother, joined the team as a DP last year and just scored a hat trick on Leg 2 of CCL play. He is looking dangerous and could be the best value in Portland’s midfield until Blanco can return to full fitness. The downside of Y. Chara is he does not appear to be on any set piece duties. Eryk Williamson at $5M may be a sneaky way to pick up points on a day when Valeri is on the bench. Williamson has been known to play farther up the pitch when Valeris is out.
Forwards: The choice here is easy. Mora is healthy and looked dangerous in CCL in two games against CD Marathon. Ebobisse is out with a hamstring injury and Niezgoda ended his season with an ACL tear last fall. Once we see Ebobisse healthy I think we can expect to see him get minutes on the wing or up top. Niezgoda is unlikely to return before summer.
Potential Starting XI