There’s not a whole lot of “there” there on the D.C. United-Portland trade today, a move of necessity on both sides. No one was looking for a game-changer here, but more of a short-term fix tied to larger aims.
United got left back Mike Chabala from Portland. In return, the Timbers got a 2014 supplemental draft pick, which isn’t much.
Chabala (pictured) made 13 starts last year and just six this year for Portland, which is about right for him. He’s a quality backup, and United manager Ben Olsen knows so. Currently dealing with injuries at the outside back spot, also seeking fullback depth in general, Chabala fits the need.
Chabala worked in spots at Houston (previously) and in Portland because both places have smaller fields, where physical play is slightly more of a premium. His speed gets exposed when the fields get a little bigger, particularly when Chabala is matched against one of the faster wingers. That’s trouble waiting to happen.
For Portland, shedding the backup created room for the Timbers’ next move, which was signing New Zealand Olympic defender Ian Hogg. The 22-year-old outside back also has four caps with New Zealand’s full national team.
Does Hogg represent an upgrade over Steven Smith at left back? That probably doesn’t matter, since making the playoffs in 2012 can’t really be a Portland Timbers target. It’s not going to happen.
So, it’s probably all about seeing who can and can’t make the grade in MLS. The Timbers appear to have conceded the point, too, that tearing down and then rebuilding the roster has taken priority over 2012 pursuits.