Every coach has some tough choices to make when it comes to playing time. For Portland’s Caleb Porter, one of his toughest decisions comes at the right back spot.
On one hand, he’s got Alvas Powell – a Jamaican international in his fifth year with the Timbers. On the other hand, there’s Zarek Valentin – a highly-touted player in his own right who also boasts a relationship with Porter going back to the pair’s time at the University of Akron.
This season, Powell’s gotten 17 starts compared to Valentin’s 10. But, according to the Audi Index numbers, Valentin has played well enough to merit additional playing time and perhaps even supplant Powell in the starting XI.
Any way you slice it, Valentin is dramatically outperforming Powell in the Audi Index. In the past 10 games, his mean of 374 points easily bests Powell’s 195.
In addition, Valentin is outpacing his colleague in the following categories: Interceptions, Clearances, Successful Passes (Opposition Half), Successful Passes (Own Half), and Assists.
Despite Valentin’s numbers, Powell has started the past two matches, going the full 90 minutes each time and notching a goal in the Timbers’ 3-1 win against the struggling LA Galaxy on Aug. 6. He also started and went the distance in Portland’s first 11 matches of the campaign, which signals that he’s still considered the first choice right back in the Rose City.
While it’s no secret that Portland’s defense hasn’t been as airtight as the fans would like it to be, Porter’s squad gets another shot at a shutout this Friday night. The Timbers host a New York Red Bulls side which is coming off a grueling, 120-minute US Open Cup semifinal at FC Cincinnati on Tuesday night (10 pm ET; FS1 in the US | MLS LIVE in Canada).
Between Valentin and Powell, whoever starts figures to have a great opportunity to take advantage of the opponent’s tired legs and help Portland earn a rare clean sheet.