Who replaces Chris Wingert? Palmer, Mansally, Balchan each offer different look

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Wingert won't be playing Sunday after suffering a broken rib in the first leg. That's a bit of a blow, considering he was very good against LA Galaxy, but it's a blow we've learned to shield ourselves against throughout the season. Three options present themselves for selection, and they each present something different.

Lovel Palmer is the first option we'd expect to see, and as a former Portland player (do we just say "former Portland Timber"?), he's probably used to the crowd. In fact, with how well Timbers supporters seemed to take to him, the negativity probably isn't anything particularly new, either. Palmer offers a slightly more balanced approach than Wingert, who I'd argue is a more defensive left back than Palmer. We might also point at Palmer's crossing ability as a positive, and surely that can't hurt, but it's not something likely to change the game for us. For the record, he is my favorite option, and I think we're lucky to have him - to come in and require so little time to mesh with the squad, and to be a steadying figure when not a certain starter week-in, week-out is a difficult feat. It speaks highly of his character.

Abdoulie Mansally is the second option, and in some senses, he's a very interesting one. He provides great natural width and a more attacking mentality, but he's a more risky option defensively. This isn't to say that he's a terrible defender - indeed, he can be a very good one - but he's prone to moments of madness. The life of a backup left back is a tough one, really. I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see Mansally as a late option if we need more attacking width, but I suspect this isn't the match in which he'll play as a defender.

Rich Balchan, somewhat remarkably, is a third option. Balchan has spent much of the season out with a shoulder dislocation, but he's fit again and impressing in training - enough so that Garth Lagerwey and Jason Kreis have both named him an option in the last two days during radio interviews. This comes after not making the bench - ever, if I'm not mistaken - for RSL during the regular season. One can't blame him for that, and he's clearly a well-rated prospect, but his presence in their very public considerations is striking. He is perhaps the one most like Wingert, as he's a more defensive option. While it's a long shot, he can't really be ruled out at this point. Remarkably.

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