Scouting Evander: A look at the Portland Timbers’ new Brazilian attacker
The Portland Timbers’ marquee acquisition of the offseason was signing Brazilian midfielder Evander as a Designated Player. With expectations for him to revitalize Portland’s offense, what can we expect him to bring to the field? Toke Theilade, who covers the Danish Superliga where Evander most recently played, was on loan to Stumptown Footy to help answer this question. Here is his scouting report:
The Portland Timbers recently signed midfielder Evander from Danish side FC Midtjylland, and the Brazilian could become the next in a long line of players to successfully move from Denmark to the MLS. Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar and Philadelphia’s Mikael Uhre have already taken the league with major accolades to show for it (Mukhtar won the league MVP last year and Uhre helped the Union win the Eastern Conference and capture the MLS Cup ), and Andreas Maxsø just joined the Colorado Rapids. So who is the Brazilian midfielder, and what can Timbers fans expect from him in the coming years?
From Rio to Herning
Evander grew up in Rio de Janeiro and joined the ranks of local team Vasco da Gama at the age of nine. Here he went through the same academy as one of Brazil’s all-time greats, Romario. Just like the 1994 world champion, Evander also eventually made the first team and earned his debut as a 17-year-old in 2016.
Evander went on to play for Vasco da Gama’s first team for three seasons, mostly as a rotational player, before moving to Denmark in the summer of 2018, when he joined FC Midtjylland on a season-long loan deal.
The Brazilian came to Denmark as an unknown, albeit exciting player, but he quickly became a household name. After his first season he had nine goals and three assists to his name and helped his team win the Danish Cup for the first time ever, making it an easy decision for Midtjylland to activate his release clause and sign him permanently Acquire.
Over the next three seasons, Evander established himself as one of the best players in Denmark. He became famous for his beautiful goals and brilliant technique. In the 2019 – 2020 season, he was one of the main factors behind Midtjylland winning the championship with a staggering eight goals and nine assists.
The following season, Evander improved his goal tally even further as he contributed 12 league goals and six assists. Although Midtjylland fell short in the championship race, they qualified for the Champions League for the first time ever, where they ended up in the group of death along with Ajax, Atalanta and Liverpool. Here, Evander showed himself positively with some strong performances, including 90 minutes in FCM’s 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool.
For most of Evander’s time in Denmark, there were rumors that he would make a move to bigger European teams. Clubs such as AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, FC Porto and several Premier League clubs have all, according to media rumours, been keen on the Brazilian for several years, but Midtjylland’s high price has put them all off.
Instead, Evander is now moving to MLS and the Portland Timbers. Before the World Cup, he scored four times in ten league games. He also leads the assists list in the UEFA Europa League after an impressive group stage.
What can Evander bring to Portland?
For most players, moving from sunny Rio de Janeiro to a small city in the middle of dark, cold and rainy Denmark will take quite a bit of effort. Several talented players could not adapt to the Superliga – but not Evander. From day one, he made an impact on the field, and he adapted to his new environment easily and without any significant problems.
The Brazilian also leaves Midtjylland as a club favorite and an icon after his 4 and a half years at the club. He grew tremendously during this time, and he went from a talented and gifted youngster to a true star and leader. His teammates look to him in the big games, and he is capable of providing the magic that can decide the outcome of games. This was seen for example at Brøndby Stadion this season, where he scored a fine goal as Midtjylland won 2-0. He steps up when it matters most, like in the cup final last season where he scored the winning goal in the penalty shootout.
Although he plays in midfield, Evander is deadly in front of goal, something that the 39 goals to his name prove. Advanced statistics support this as well. Over the past 3 and a half seasons where expected goals (xG) data is publicly available for the Superliga on the official website, Evander has scored 30 goals at an xG of 29.1. He therefore outperforms his expected goals, which is considered the best proof of finish quality.
However, one would be mistaken to think that Evander only thinks about himself on the field. Since arriving in Denmark, he has been one of the best playmakers the Superliga has ever seen. Over the past four seasons, he has finished in the top two in chances created among all players in the league each time. He twice finished with the most chances created for his teammates in the entire league. His passing is of the highest order, and so is his review. He has great anticipation and is able to find his teammates even in small pockets and send his passes even before the strikers start their deep runs.
His excellent ball control also shows on set-pieces, where he has become somewhat of a specialist. He scored some stunning free-kicks during his spell at Midtjylland, and also provides excellent crosses from corners and indirect free-kicks.
He is a versatile player who can play on both wings as well as a supporting striker, but he plays best as a number ten. His technique on the ball is among the best in Scandinavia and he is almost impossible to dispossess. He is quick on the ball and can take on opponents with sharp dribbles and impressive skills.
The Portland Timbers get a player with a high level, but also room to get even bigger. Evander has already proven himself on the biggest stage in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. He is hungry and eager to improve and elevate his career, just as Mukhtar and Uhre have already done after their move to the MLS. Timbers fans can and should have high hopes for the new Brazilian who arrives with the ambition to take over football.