Anticipating the 'magic' of Evander
The I-5 Corridor made it out to the Portland Timbers' opener on Monday to try and figure out what makes Portland's one-named star so special.
PORTLAND — The Portland Timbers opened the season with a 1-0 win Monday night at Providence Park, a frigid affair that saw Portland net a goal in the sixth minute and withstand quality attempts by Kansas City as rain dripped from the sky. Four months removed from the missing the 2022 MLS Playoffs on the final day of the season, coach Giovanni Savarese got the hot start he desired.
“We got the result that we wanted,” said Savarese, who set a Timbers’ record with his 69th win with the franchise. “It was excellent.”
And I’m sure it was.
But as you here at the I-5 Corridor likely know, I don’t know soccer too well. But I do know that the guys with one name are usually the pretty good ones. And Portland has a new one this year in Evander, a 24-year-old who’s spent the last five seasons with FC Midtjylland in Denmark. I spent most of Monday’s game — originally scheduled for Saturday night, but, well, snow — with my eyes trained to the Brazilian, trying to figure out what all the hype was for. I mean, Evander came to Portland with a club-record $10 million transfer fee and even got the courtside treatment at a recent Blazers game.
For much of the match, Evander’s impact seemed minimal. He didn’t get many touches, wasn’t in the vicinity of the one goal scored by Juan Mosquera and looked frustrated at times when he wasn’t quite syncing with new teammates. Had you not known the Timbers had a star offseason acquisition, you likely didn’t leave Providence Park with any sudden realizations.
But there were flashes — a soft first-touch here, great anticipation on a pass there — that seemed a little different than everyone else.
So in the postgame press conference, I pled my ignorance to Savarese.
For someone who doesn’t have an eye for what makes a great soccer player, what should somebody like me be watching for to pick up on the nuances of what he does well in the game?
I loved his answer, so we’re going to end on it:
“I think what you’re going to see that will go right to your brain when you’re watching is he can do things that are different, things that not everybody can do, moments in which he can just make a quick decision, or think about something and his execution is very quick,” Savarese said. “Maybe he sees something before somebody else sees it, and you can clearly see that puts a player in a better position to be able to score, put a cross in. And if you see a lot of the moments he was able to find — they weren’t that constant today because I think he’s adapting a little bit — but he found those moments and he put other players in better situations.
“I think little by little, you’ll start seeing the magic that we see, because he’s a quality player. His touches you can see, the way he passes, shoots, his free kicks — when they come in, they’re coming in a way where they’re more dangerous. So little by little we’ll all start looking at him and we’ll all start feeling and understanding the things that he can do that are very special.”
— Tyson Alger
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Missed the game, but had the same question. Thanks for this.