Most Valuable Player – Diego Johnson. Okay, so that’s not a person. But the numbers speak for themselves. When Diego Chara and Will Johnson started, the Timbers were 12-1-13, resulting in 49 points, an average of 1.88 points per game, and scoring 43 goals while only conceding 18. That’s all fine and good, but you’re going to want to sit down before you read the next two sentences. The Timbers allowed 18 goals in the 26 games Diego Johnson started, and shipped 15 in the eight they didn’t. That’s a 0.69 GAA with DieJo and 1.88 without. Breathing into a paper bag helps. So, yeah, Diego Johnson is the Timbers’ MVP. Honorable Mention: Diego Valeri, Donovan Ricketts.
Most Improved Player – Rodney Wallace. A year ago, I was wondering whether Rodney was a legitimate MLS player. Miscast as a left back and shuttled in and out of the lineup, it looked like Wallace was destined to become a journeyman MLS reserve. In 2013, he was an All Star, bagging 7 goals and 6 assists and providing the direct threat that transformed the Timbers offense from cute to dangerous. Honorable Mention: Donovan Ricketts
Goal of the Year – Diego Valeri v. New York. The Timbers didn’t wait long to produce their Goal of the Year, as it came just 14 minutes into the season. A close race between Valeri’s against New York, Nagbe’s at home against Dallas, and Nagbe’s U.S. Open Cup goal at Dallas, but the skill involved in Valeri’s juggle through the New York defense was transcendent. Honorable Mention: Nagbe at Dallas, Nagbe v. Dallas, Will Johnson v. Colorado.
Unsung Hero of the Year – Michael Harrington. This was the most agonizing decision for us here at The Morrison Report, but Harrington comes away with the prize for his consistently solid defense on the flank. The Timbers’ setup through much of the year, with DieJo sitting in central midfield, forced opponents to try to beat the Timbers in wide areas, putting a fair amount of pressure on the fullbacks. After a shaky start, Harrington was the Timbers most consistent contributor, locking down the left side defensively. But, ultimately, here’s why Harrington gets the nod: Nobody noticed. Other guys didn’t get the full credit they deserved, but Harrington was the least-sung of the Timbers’ many heroes. Honorable Mention: Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury, Futty.
Win of the Year – April 27, 2013 at Sporting Kansas City. The Timbers logged several big wins in 2013, but the upset win on the road to Sporting KC was the first time Portland looked like they could make a truly special run in 2013. It was also among the most entertaining matches of the year, with both teams playing attractive soccer, and SKC going ahead twice only to have Portland take the lead for good by way of a Rodney Wallace second half goal.
Up-and-Comer of the Year – Jose Valencia. Coming off a lost season, Valencia had turned from a surefire signing to a complete wild card coming into 2013. The few glimpses we saw of Valencia late in 2012 revealed a reluctant passer struggling to recover the form he enjoyed pre-injury. While his form had improved by the spring of 2013, the image was largely the same; a talented, but raw player whose role in the offense was as unclear to himself as it was to observers. As the season progressed, Valencia grew into a quality lone striker, and will likely enter the offseason as at worst a co-favorite to win the starting number nine spot in 2014. While some will see his defining moment of the season as his goal in Vancouver to salvage a point down a man, to me the surest sign of Trencito’s growth was his mature holdup play in both trips to Chivas USA, crowned by his assist to Valeri in September.
Onward, Rose City!