Yes, the Portland Timbers season is upon us once again. And wow, did it sneak up on us bad fans this year.
For those of us who have paid less attention than usual to the preseason goings-on—I swear it wasn't my fault; non-soccer distractions abounded—the first game of the season has felt almost premature. It was only back on December 8 that the team fell to Atlanta 2–0 during MLS Cup. But here we are.
To recap the mostly quiet offseason: Gone are Liam Ridgewell, Alvas Powell, Jake Gleeson, Roy Miller, and Lawrence Olum—all key parts of the Timbers’ defense at various points in time. New to the team: right back Jorge Moreira arrived from Argentina’s River Plate, centerback Claude Dielna came from the New England Revolution, and Slovenian goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic signed a contract ... and underwent leg surgery before the ink could dry.
Beyond some depth signings, that’s pretty much it. There were some furious tweetings following the pursuit of “high profile” DP targets (higher-paid DPs, or designated players, don’t fully count against a team’s salary cap), but as of this writing no such signing has been announced. At the very least, the team can boast it has two Jorges on the roster, as well as two Diegos.
There’s also the tiny matter that Portland will not play a home game in Portland until June 1. The team will play 12 games on the road due to the ongoing stadium expansion construction work. As of this morning, this is what Providence Park looked like:
But with the young Jeremy Ebobisse developing at forward, and midfielder Andy Polo’s preseason form looking promising, many fans among those sitting at my desk right now are optimistic head coach Gio Savarese can make another run at the championship trophy. After surpassing all expectations last year, Savarese is no longer living in the shadow of his predecessor Caleb Porter.
The team kick offs against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, March 2, at 3pm on (sigh) ROOT Sports.