Fanendo Adi Suspended: How the Timbers Attack Without Him

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The MLS Independent Disciplinary Committee suspended Portland Timbers striker Fanendo Adi for this weekend’s Cascadia Cup clash against Vancouver Whitecaps for throwing an elbow at Sporting Kansas City’s Ike Opara last weekend. He has also been fined an undisclosed amount.

Fanendo Adi Suspended: How the Timbers Attack Without Him

Here’s the moment that drew the punishment:

Adi received no card during the match, but he was called for a foul.

This opens up a huge hole in the Portland attack due to their alarming lack of depth up front. Adi has played every second of the season at striker and the Timbers really don’t have a backup plan for this scenario. They have a couple center forward options on their roster, but none of them will bring the physical nature and goal scoring prowess of the big Nigerian.

Darren Mattocks

Mattocks is the first option for replacing Adi in the starting XI this weekend, and the only one currently on the senior team. He’s got the experience playing up front even though the Timbers have used him exclusively on the wing. He has 20 career MLS goals, but his career high of seven in one season came way back in 2012.

Mattocks scored once in 12 starts last year for the Timbers, but all of those appearances came from a wide position. He’s six inches and 30 pounds smaller than Adi, so don’t expect the same type of physical presence should he get the call. He will be a more nimble player looking for space to receive balls in from the midfield or hope to be in the right place at the right time fore a rebound.

Jeremy Ebobisse

The Timbers first round draft pick is closer to the Fanendo Adi mold, but he lacks the experience and isn’t ready to take on MLS level competition. He has two starts with Timbers 2 in the USL and has been mostly absent in both of them. His stats amount to one shot in 180 minutes of play for the winless T2. Throwing him into the fire isn’t the best option here, but he is probably going to be on the bench, ready to go at a moment’s notice on Saturday.

Diego Valeri

Those two are the only true center forwards on the team, but that doesn’t mean Caleb Porter can’t get creative. If there is one other guy on the Timbers roster than can handle the job up front, it’s Diego Valeri. The attacking midfielder has never played striker before, but he has the skill set for the job. He’s a strong finisher who has five goals on the year. He’s one of the most intelligent players on MLS who can adapt to any situation he gets thrown into. I hardly expect this to happen, but if an emergency arises, Valeri could answer the call up front for the Timbers.

If I were manager Caleb Porter, I would go with Mattocks up front to start, but have Ebobisse on stand by in case of emergency. A shift to a two striker formation may have to occur if the team is struggling to score. Adi normally draws a lot of defensive attention, and any replacement will not carry the same threat. This figures to reduce the effectiveness of the brilliant midfielders on their own, in addition to taking away their 6’4″ target man in the middle of the penalty area. A second striker can help out with that aspect later in the game.

So, the Timbers may struggle to score on Saturday afternoon. Their lack of depth will haunt them directly in this rivalry match since they have no answer for an Adi-less team. If only Jack McInerney were still available to save the day.

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