Portland Timbers: Evander's Third MLS Team of the Matchday Honors Is A Great Sign

The Timbers record setting arrival is off to an incredible start even if his club's performance & table position doesn't reflect it. If Portland is to get back to the MLS Cup Playoffs this fall, Evander will need to be at the center of that return.
NY City FC vs Portland Timbers
NY City FC vs Portland Timbers / Stephen Nadler/ISI Photos/GettyImages

After a skid down the Western Conference standings in late March. The Portland Timbers have bounced back with back to back draws.

At the helm of that turnaround is Evander, the club's record arrival ($10mil) & at one point this season, Portland's lone designated player after a roster overhaul.

The Timbers have struggled with midfield offensive creativity since the decline of club legend Diego Valeri. Valeri left his mark not only on soccer in Portland but also on MLS as a member of the 80/80 club.

But after his decline on the pitch as age & injuries set, Valerie departed the club in January of 2022. Back to his boyhood club Lanus before returning just seven months later to retire as a Timber.

The club never found their replacement in the midfield. Bringing back former Timbers veterans like George Fochive to go the band aid route.

As well as trying out their U-22 initiative signing Santiago Moreno at the number ten spot before realizing his greater effectiveness on the wings. And without that presence in the midfield, Portland has struggled to keep up with the super charged DP driven attacks MLS is becoming known for.

Insert Evander, a 24-year-old Brazilian number ten who was making his impact for FC Midtjylland domestically & in Europe. He arrived in Portland during the winter transfer window before the 2023 season. Evander was making a name for himself after leading the Europa League in assists (5 in 6 games) before his sale to the Timbers in December.

His first campaign in MLS had it's ups and downs. Including six missed matches due to hip, leg & calf injuries. Along with a MLS disciplinary committee issued one game suspension after a reviewed play of Evander slapping NYCFC forward Matias Pellegrini late in their June matchup.

Though there were some bright spots, including 13 goal involvements (9 goals, 4 assists) in 27 matches in MLS. That to go along with another 2 goals in 2 matches during the first iteration of Leagues Cup.

Fast forward to 2024 & Evander began the season with a leg injury. Missing the first two games of the season before joining the squad for a 2-1 road win over New York City on March 9th. He scored his first goal of the season in New York in extra time.

But after that he went scoreless in Portland's next two matches, losses to Houston & Philadelphia. Soccer is a team sport & one player should never get all the blame for a loss. Just look at his performance against Vancouver, 1 goal & 1 assist in the Timbers 2-3 loss north of the boarder as proof.

Now, in mid-April he's on an absolute tear. Scoring in the last three straight matches & contributing 2 assists during that time. As I said before it's been a group effort, but Evander's scoring presence has at least helped the Timbers secure a few points in the last couple of weeks. And his goal against MLS powerhouse LAFC this past weekend has led to some familiar accolades on Monday morning.

Because of that Evander earned a spot in the league's Team of the Matchday honors alongside some of the league's best, his third such honor in just six weeks of play. Which is a great sign for Timbers fans in what can be considered a slight rebuild year but also a push for the playoffs.

As Evander's workrate & goal-creating actions from last season are already under a microscope by some. So his impact now being clearcut goals & assists is the perfect way to silence doubters & live up to that sale price.

Though after Evander made his discontent surrounding his potential transfer back to Brazil's Serie A this past January public in a recent interview. After admitting a move back to his home country to play for a big club like Fluminense would be a desirable next step in his career. Mainly in hopes of a call up to the Brazilian Men's National Team after logging appearances in their youth ranks back at Vasco De Gama.

It was easy to place a spotlight on his commitment to Portland moving forward. Or, Evander could look at his current situation & realize only an exemplary performance from himself can expedite his departure from MLS. Some could find that quite motivating, and we might be seeing that first hand.

Which, is a must if he's hoping to generate enough interest & need for his services to warrant a fee larger than what Portland spent to get him to the Rose City. As Fluminense reportedly offered a cool $7.5 million to secure his services prior, likely in hopes of defending their Copa Libertadores & Recopa Sudamericana titles.

A situation any player ready to put their European dreams behind & move back home would be ready to join. Which, if he keeps up his production like he has, could be sooner rather than later.