Portland Timbers turn to Andrew Jean-Baptiste after David Horst goes back on the shelf with knee injury
BEAVERTON, Ore. – Despite taking another hit at the center back position, don’t expect the Portland Timbers to bring any new players aboard.
Head coach Caleb Porter said after the team’s training session on Monday that he likes the club’s existing depth on the backline, even after losing veteran defender David Horst to a season-ending knee injury during a win over Houston last weekend.
Second-year pro Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who started the season’s first four games while Horst recovered from a preseason knock, came on after the injury and helped secure a clean sheet against the high-scoring Dynamo. Jean-Baptiste, a first-round SuperDraft pick last year out of Connecticut, will presumably inherit the bulk of playing time alongside former French international Mikaël Silvestre, who was acquired just ahead of the 2013 season.
“He went in and did a great job and was the starter earlier in the year,” Porter said of Jean-Baptiste. “And even though we lost Horst and it’s too bad and we feel for him, when Baptiste went in we didn’t miss a beat and we still got the clean sheet with those two guys in there.”
Horst’s injury comes at a tenuous time for the Timbers backline. Hanyer Mosquera, a mainstay at center back last year, was granted an indefinite leave of absence to return home to Colombia two weeks ago. And recent tweets from Mosquera appeared to indicate that he might sign with another team in his home country.
Backing up Silvestre and Jean-Baptiste are rookie Dylan Tucker-Gangnes and veteran Mamadou “Futty” Danso, neither of whom have logged first-team minutes this season.
“I think right now, we feel like we still have enough depth,” Porter said.
Horst went down in the 16th minute against Houston as he challenged a deep run by Giles Barnes. Horst was taken off on a stretcher and underwent surgery Monday afternoon to repair a displaced tibial plateau fracture of his right leg. He is expected to miss six months.
“He’s a fighter, he wants to be on the field, he loves this club,” said Porter, who spoke with Horst before the surgery. “He had worked so hard to get back healthy to play. … What I told him was just keep doing what you do. ‘You’re good because of what you do. You’re a fighter, and you’ve made it to this level because of that. And this is just another little thing you have to get through.’”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.