With Chivas USA's trade of Jorge Villafana to the Portland Timbers in exchange for Andrew Jean-Baptiste yesterday, we asked William Conwell of SB Nation Timbers blog Stumptown Footy for a scouting report on the newest Goat. Thanks to William for his help on what was a very busy day for him!
Stumptown Footy's scouting report of Andrew Jean-Baptiste:
In his second season with the Portland Timbers, the expectation was that Andrew Jean-Baptiste, aka "Beast", would continue to grow his game under the tutelage of Caleb Porter while experienced pros like Mikael Silvestre, David Horst, Hanyer Mosquera, and Futty Danso held down the fort. For a few short weeks it looked like it might just play out that way until season ending injuries to Horst and Silvestre, along with the forced release of Mosquera, left the team with no option other than him.
Jean-Baptiste played 26 games in the 2013 season, up from 5 in 2012. For almost five months he was one of the Timbers' key players, helping to anchor the league's second stingiest defense through a significant stretch of their best season to date. Then, after facing off against Chivas USA in a mid-September road draw, he was pulled from the starting line-up and was not to see the field again in 2013. Futty Danso had returned from a niggling injury which had been dogging him for much of the season and, coming into the final stretch of games that could assure the Timbers of a playoff berth, Porter decided to go with experience over youth. There was a sneaking feeling, however, that Jean-Baptiste's physical and often direct style of play just did not fit in with Porter's vision for the team.
Throughout his college career, and continuing into his time with the Timbers, Jean-Baptiste has been described as "raw". A powerful physical specimen with surprisingly deft technique, the real questions that have followed Jean-Baptiste are about the mental side of his game. A hot or cold player, when he is on there are few forwards in MLS capable of getting past AJB; when he is off, however, the potential for missed marks, handballs in the box, and poorly placed passes greatly increases.
Jean-Baptiste has all the tools to be a premier centerback in MLS for years to come, so his trade came as something of a shock to many Timbers fans. Maybe he was not willing to sit on the bench; maybe he did not play the way that Porter wants his centerbacks to; maybe he just did not fit into the carefully crafted family that Porter and General Manager Gavin Wilkinson have put together.
No matter what the reason for Jean-Baptiste's trade, Chivas USA are coming away with a centerback that, with the right coaching and mentoring, could be with the Goats for a very long time.
Jean-Baptiste is capable of pushing any of the centerbacks on Chivas's roster for a starting spot, so do not be surprised to see him line up alongside Carlos Bocanegra in the near future. If the two can form a working partnership, Bocanegra's guidance could be just what a young, somewhat headstrong player like Jean-Baptiste needs to continue his evolution as a player.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!
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