Mikael Silvestre

MLS news roundup: Maurice Edu details, Beitashour in Vancouver, fresh stadium discord in D.C. and more

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We know a little more today about the move that brings Maurice Edu back to PPL Park, where he’ll dust himself off and get to work for John Hackworth’s young team. Turns out, however, he’s not 100 percent free of the nightmare that his days at Stoke City turned into. His deal with Philly is just a loaner from Stoke. It is a season-long loan with an option to purchase.

About this apparent, raging opposition in Washington, D.C., to United’s proposed stadium there: here is some great context from longtime soccer ace Steven Goff.  Among the gems as Goff compares the current stadium talks to something similar with baseball in the not-so-distant past: “For decades, congressmen and pundits … set the agenda by drooling over the idea of the Mudville 9 and seventh-inning stretches in the nation’s capital. They are not as concerned about a soccer team, whose base of support inside city limits is young, hip, diverse and well-traveled.” Nailed it, dude.

A rather quiet off-season (player personnel-wise) came to life around BC Place as new coach Carl Robinson will have some real quality at right back, where Steven Beitashour is now on board to replace the retired Y.P. Lee.  As this piece points out, a back line of Beitashour on the right, Jordan Harvey or Carlyle Mitchell on the left, with Andy O’Brien and Jay Demerit holding the middle? Yeah, that doesn’t look too bad at all.

Just south of there, this was kind of surprising. I, along with some others, I’m sure, was looking forward to seeing if former Manchester United center back Mikael Silvestre (pictured above) could rebound from last year’s serious injury and add something to the Portland Timbers defense. But it sounds like he may not even get the chance. There’s ample cover now, plus he’s a high-salaried, 36-year-old coming off a significant injury, so there’s probably some contracting re-working that would need to be done.

Portland’s Mikael Silvestre out 6-9 months with ACL tear

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The Portland Timbers’ release, just put out Friday afternoon, says that defender Mikael Silvestre will miss 6-9 months … but we can cut some clutter here and say it like this: the best, most experienced defender around Jeld-Wen Field is done for the year.

The injury happened just before the hour mark of last night’s scoreless draw with New England.

Even the most optimistic projections would put the former Manchester United center back out through October, which means through the entire regular season. The league’s regular season ends on Oct. 27.

Even if Caleb Porter’s team makes the playoffs – and strong Timbers’ performances were certainly suggestive that post-season soccer was in store for Oregon – there is almost no chance Silvestre could regain form and fitness in time to affect the playoffs.

So, that’s that. Truly, considering the Timbers’ roster, this may have been the most devastating injury they could suffer.

It’s a real blow to the Timbers at a time when momentum was building steadily. Porter’s team is unbeaten since mid-March, currently in third place in the West.

Another prominent MLS center back did make a stunningly rapid comeback just one year ago. Omar Gonzalez was back in the Galaxy’s starting 11 less than six months after his ACL tear. Then again, Gonzalez is 10 years younger than Silvestre, who will be 36 when and if he gets back on the field for the Timbers.

MLS Preview: Portland Timbers at Sporting Kansas City

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As a contest of fan enthusiasm, this would be a real doozy. Both clubs enjoy tremendous home support, boisterous and knowledgeable, and the houses are always packed.

As a soccer game, it doesn’t look bad either.

Portland has found its way recently under Caleb Porter (pictured). Meanwhile, Sporting KC was unbeaten in five consecutively before running into the LA Galaxy buzz saw (in a pretty unfavorable situation) last weekend.

So tonight’s match from inside Sporting Park should be a great one for viewing; kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

Peter Vermes’ team from the Midwest was rolling until last weekend, a real tour du force in defense through most of April. Then came the Round 8 visit to the Home Depot Center, where a well-rested Galaxy took advantage of a team traveling in from the East Coast. SKC had just dusted off New York in mid-week, so the trip into Southern California just three nights later was always asking a lot.

Honestly, we should just write that one off. The Matt Besler- and Aurelien Collin-led back line, backstopped by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and bracketed by two of the league’s underrated defenders (outside backs Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic) will still be tough to penetrate.

But the Timbers will have a chance, especially if playmaker Diego Valeri is on his game. The Timbers are undefeated in their last five and have scooped up 7 of a possible 9 points in April. During the five-game run, Porter’s team has managed draws in Seattle, Colorado and (most recently) San Jose. In fact, the Timbers were a minute away from collecting their initial road win under Porter until a stoppage time goal for the Earthquakes meant another set of split points.

Still, not bad for a team that was a perfectly yukky 1-12-5 away from Jeld-Wen Field last year.

Said Porter of last week’s result: “We knew it would be really difficult to go into San Jose and get another win. … In the end, the perspective is positive that we get a point, but we were a minute away from getting three points.

“What’s even more impressive is we’re not happy with the draws. That means that you genuinely have belief in your group. These guys, no matter if we’re home or away or who we’re playing, they believe we can get a result.”

One bad issue for the Timbers: midfield engine Will Johnson may miss due to some family issues, and that would be a big loss for the visitors.

Both teams play a possession game. Sporting Kansas City has tamed the go-go, high-pressure ways that served to keep opponents pinned in – but a style that wasn’t translating into playoff success. So they are keeping the ball more patiently now, playing through Oriol Rossell and Benny Feilhaber in midfield. That deliberate, ball-on-the-ground style was always the plan for Portland under Porter.

With patient possession so valued for both sides, don’t look for a high-scoring contest. Especially not considering the teams’ defensive form. Prior to conceding last weekend, the Timbers had gone “clean sheet” for 312 consecutive minutes, thanks in some part to former Manchester United center back Mikael Silvestre, who has recovered from those early MLS wobbles to become a trusted figure around Jeld-Wen. Which looked impressive enough until you noticed SKC’s own defensive streak.

Vermes’ team had went 546 minutes, which was the fifth longest in MLS history.

For those wondering, Portland Timbers defender Mikael Silvestre didn’t stink this week

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Portland’s Mikael Silvestre will continue to be one of Major League Soccer’s fascinating figures to watch in 2013. That’s part and parcel with being a guy who spent a decade with a global soccer heavy; the former French international spent 10 years at Old Trafford with Manchester United, not to mention four years after that at Arsenal.

But none of that mattered last week when Silvestre seriously stunk up the joint, more or less responsible for two goals as the Timbers tied New York in Oregon.

We know that Portland took a step back over the weekend, losing at Jeld-Wen to Montreal, a.k.a. the early surprise team of MLS 2013.

But what of Silvestre? Most verdicts gave him a moderate thumbs up.

Prost Amerika’s Chris Hardwicke gave Silvestre a 5.5 in its player ratings:

The French defender had a solid if not unremarkable evening on the pitch. There wasn’t much that was noteworthy, but there was a great sliding clearance early on a dangerous Montreal breakaway. … He even managed to get himself involved in a little bit of offensive play. But for the most part, the former Manchester United man did his primary job. While there is nothing spectacular to showcase, Silvestre performed well and is deserving of his starting role.”

More of the same from Oregon Live, where blogger Kip Kesgard appreciated an improving relationship with fellow center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste. Indeed

A poll at Stumptown Footy revealed that voters liked Jean-Baptiste, Donovan Ricketts, Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chara as Timbers Man of the Match.

Hold up with those snap conclusions after MLS Week 1

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Thirty minutes into the 2013 MLS season, the Philadelphia Union looked like world beaters. Sebastien Le Toux and Keon Daniel had made Sporting Kansas City’s defense — the best in the league in 2012 — look fragile and beatable. They found holes to sit in, collect the ball and turn to run at defenders and it resulted in an early lead for Philadelphia.

For a half hour, the Union looked like a team markedly improved from its eighth place finish in the Eastern Conference last year. Le Toux’s return brought with it early hope of a promising season for the Philly faithful.

Then Graham Zusi scored the equalizer in the 41st minute, deflating the crowd at PPL Park. Sporting Kansas City finally showed up in the second half, beat the Union 3-1 and brought everyone back to reality.

(MORE: What a match for Zusi  |  Union coach John Hackworth calls loss ‘unacceptable’)

But for 30 minutes there, the Union’s spark and Sporting’s shockingly poor start had us jumping to all sorts of conclusions that only opening day allows for — that naive sense of optimism that the clean slate of first kick brings about.

It happened throughout opening weekend (the Red Bulls are going to MLS Cup under Mike Petke’s guidance! Oh…there’s a second half.) and the ramifications of some opening game results will help some of those feeling stick around.

Is Seattle’s thinned out roster in trouble after losing to Montreal at CenturyLink Field? The Impact aren’t really that good, right? And is San Jose’s 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake indicative of how the West will be run this season, or just a case of one of the league’s best teams getting the better of another?

(MORE: Newly built defenses need more time together)

Indeed, it is far too early to proclaim that Caleb Porter (pictured) will lead the Timbers to the promised land; it’s too early to call Mikael Silvestre an MLS flop and it’s too early to proclaim Chris Wondolowski is choking under the pressure of being a Designated Player.

The MLS season is a long one and we told you last week that 2013 could be the most unpredictable yet. About the only guarantee is that, regardless of whether or not Chivas USA ends up topping the list of all-time MLS worsts this season, nobody will be there to see it.