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Evaluating the Portland Timbers Preseason Tournament

Drawing 1-1, 2-2, and 3-3 gave us a lot to talk about. Here's a look at the best (and worst) of the tournament:

MLS: Real Salt Lake vs Minnesota United FC
Johan Venegas was one of MNUFC's top performers.
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers Preseason Tournament concluded Wednesday night as Minnesota United drew 3-3 with Real Salt Lake in dramatic fashion. Recaps of the matches against Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, and RSL can be found be clicking on the club names. Though there was no formal competition, Minnesota finished tied for second place on three points, level with Real Salt Lake.

Looking back at the tournament, there’s a lot to digest. We saw nearly every player on the roster get minutes during the three matches and got an idea of what our starting lineup may look like on March 3rd back in Portland. Below are the three players who made a strong case for their inclusion in the starting XI, and some players who looked better suited to starting matches on the bench.

Three who impressed:

LB Justin Davis

One of Minnesota United’s carryovers from NASL, there was some speculation over whether he could handle playing fullback at an MLS level. Davis split time at left-back with SuperDraft pick Thomas de Villardi. Davis proved that he can handle the role defensively, as well as in an attacking role.

AM Kevin Molino

He was brought in from Orlando City for a hefty $650,000 in Allocation Money, and is proving to be well worth the price. He notched two goals in the Real Salt Lake match, and was a consistently threatening attacking presence throughout, as expected.

F Johan Venegas

Brought in from Montreal Impact via the Expansion Draft, Venegas wasn’t expected to fit into the starting lineup. Scoring three goals in the final two matches, including a dramatic stoppage time equalizer in the last match, will certainly help him make his case for a spot in the Opening Day lineup.

Two who left us unimpressed:

F Christian Ramirez

It’s hard to say, but Christian Ramirez may have played himself out of the starting lineup. Assuming Minnesota United plays in a 4-2-3-1, there’s only room for one starting striker. Ramirez managed to produce only an assist in the tournament and failed to complete attacking chances, whereas his competition Johan Venegas had an amazing tournament.

RB Jermaine Taylor

Fullback is a position of concern for the Loons, and right-back seems to be the worse off of the two fullback positions. Taylor had rough performances in the first match against Vancouver and final match against RSL. He repeatedly moved too far up the pitch and was caught out of position with his lack of speed. Luckily for Minnesota United there’s solid alternatives to Taylor in Kevin Venegas and Alvin Jones, so we shouldn’t have to suffer through Jermaine Taylor at right-back in the regular season.

And one proposed starting XI:

Here is one idea of what a 4-2-3-1 could look like for Minnesota United.

And another lineup idea for fun:

A 4-4-2 was used against RSL, and may be a better option.

Note: Rasmus Schüller, Collen Warner, and Mo Saeid seem to be fairly level in the central midfield. The three have been used (perhaps un-) fairly interchangeably in these XIs.

Did anybody play their way in or out of the lineup? What's your starting XI look like? Let us know in the comments below.