The Timbers announced the signing of Brazilian playmaker Evander on Monday morning, a club record deal. The former Midtjylland man heads to Cascadia after making his mark on Danish and European football, boasting a tally of 50 goals and 38 assists in 167 appearances across all competitions for the Superliga side.
Evander will join the list of superb talents that have graced the Timbers’ forward ranks in the modern era, alongside the likes of Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco. But how exactly will the 24-year-old fit into this current Timbers side?
In the 2022 campaign, the inconsistencies of a host of players led head coach Gio Savarese to deploy a number of tactical systems. Both the 4-2-3-1, Savarese’s staple, and the 3-5-2 were frequently used.
According to popular statistics website WhoScored, FC Midtjylland’s most used formation was the classic 4-3-3, in which Evander was deployed as one of the two number 8’s, or advanced midfielders.
While Gio Savarese has tended to play two holding midfielders in his time as Timbers boss, an overflow of midfield options could force the Venezuelan coach to explore the idea of playing three in midfield.
Diego Chara, David Ayala, and Christian Paredes are all poised to remain in green and gold next season, with Eryk Williamson’s future still up in the air. If the club do hold onto Williamson however, Evander’s arrival will further strengthen the midfield.
If Savarese were to stick with his usual 4-2-3-1 as we've seen throughout most of his tenure at Providence Park, Evander looks set to take on a natural number 10 position, to be a playmaker behind a lone striker.
Where Evander’s inclusion becomes questionable is if Savarese decides to deploy the 3-5-2 that we saw throughout the back-half of last season. Most notably in that set-up, the Timbers’ forward players, such as Santiago Moreno, Sebastian Blanco, Diaron Asprilla, and Yimmi Chara, all seemed to rotate around the central and wide attacking positions. However, with Evander’s knack for finding pockets of space centrally, that 3-5-2 could shift to a 3-4-1-2, with the tricky Brazilian playing behind to center-forwards.
Only time will tell how the new man will fit into the team, but one thing is for certain - the club appears to have snatched up a great young talent from the market and his skill set could be just what Gio Savarese needs to reclaim the Timbers’ seat at the table with the elite Western Conference clubs in Major League Soccer.