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Cascadia Rivalry Roster Comparison: Forwards

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SEATTLE - AUGUST 28:  Fredy Montero #17 of the Seattle Sounders FC pumps his fist after scoring in the first half against the Chicago Fire on August 28 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - AUGUST 28: Fredy Montero #17 of the Seattle Sounders FC pumps his fist after scoring in the first half against the Chicago Fire on August 28 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Much has been said and written about the relative merits of the front lines of the inaugural MLS rosters for the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps. The Timbers, the story goes, have stockpiled talent at forward while the Whitecaps have decided to build from the back and are relatively bare at striker (especially after drafting a forward in Omar Salgado at the 2011 MLS SuperDraft who can't even appear for the team until near the end of the season). But lost in that conversation is the fact that the apparent depth of the Timbers is quite sparse when it comes to experience.

I've compiled a list of the likely players at forward (including anyone who's likely to get appearances at the position in MLS play) and included the career number of games played and goals scored for a team in MLS or in a better league. Obviously, the question of which leagues are 'better' than MLS is contentious. Most of the top level leagues in Europe, obviously, along with Mexico. There are various supposedly objective metrics floating around that turn out to be piles of pro-European bias that tells us that Cyprus' top league outclasses MLS because it sends more teams to the Europa League. In the case of these rankings, I'll rely on my own judgement and I'll list any leagues that are borderline that I didn't include.

Also note that I made a couple of judgement calls on positioning. I've included Jorge Perlaza as a Timbers player (not that he adds any stats) and included Eddie Johnson as a forward but not Ryan Pore, as that's how the Timbers roster has them listed.

Seattle Sounders FC
Player Apps Goals Leagues Included Leagues not Included
Fredy Montero 56 22 MLS Colombia
Blaise Nkufo 243 119 Eredivisie, Bundesliga 2. Bundesliga
O'Brian White 33 4 MLS --
Nate Jaqua 187 47 MLS, Austria --
Mike Fucito 4 1 MLS --
Total 523 193  
Portland Timbers
Player Apps Goals Leagues Included Leagues not Included
Kenny Cooper 90 40 MLS 2. Bundesliga, League One
Bright Dike 0 0 -- --
Darlington Nagbe 0 0 -- --
Jorge Perlaza 0 0 -- Colombia
Eddie Johnson 111 18 Belgium, Championship League One
Total 201 58  
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Player Apps Goals Leagues Included Leagues not Included
Atiba Harris 126 15 MLS --
Omar Salgado 0 0 -- --
Cornelius Stewart 0 0 -- --
Total 126 15  

It's clear that the Whitecaps are relying on Atiba Harris and not much else at forward, at least until Salgado's eligible to play. Judging from the preseason camp games, their most dangerous attacking player might be Davide Chiumiento and it won't be surprising if Teitur Thordarson plays with a lone striker.

The Timbers are impressive if you're comparing them to the 'Caps, but really they're relying on Kenny Cooper and a whole lot of hope. Nagbe might be a future superstar, but he might also be a bust. Same with Perlaza. Dike's likelihood of superstardom seems to be lessened after he was released by the Crew. And for all the heraldry that accompanies Cooper, he's scored fewer goals in MLS than Nate Jaqua, who's probably Seattle's fourth forward.

This is a position where Seattle holds the cards when it comes to experience and proven ability.