In part 3 of our 2015 MLS Season Preview, we look at the 10 sides that will be fighting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. While D.C. United won the East in 2014, they will have plenty of competition from Columbus, Toronto FC, New England and Chicago
The Portland Timbers played their second of three matches in the Simple Tournament when they hosted the Chicago Fire. Facing one of their MLS brethren for the second straight match, the Timbers used a lineup mostly of reserves and a Michael Nanchoff goal to take an early lead. Chicago was able to level, but they got some help from Timbers defender Norberto Paparatto, who headed a corner kick in accidentally to give the Fire their only tally of the night as the teams played to a 1 all draw.
The Portland Timbers returned back to Providence Park for their annual pre-season tournament - now called the Simple Tournament - for the first of three exhibitions matches. Facing their Cascadia rivals from Canada, the Timbers couldn't overcome a goal from former Timbers defender Pa Modou Kah against his old side for his new club as the Whitecaps took the match 1 to 0.
The 2015 MLS season is fast approaching, and I start my look at the upcoming season although we begin with a different topic - the state of MLS. With the players and league locked into discussions about terms of an updated collective bargaining agreement, there could be joy in stadiums on March 7 when the season should begin or frustration should a strike or work stoppage occur if the sides can't agree on a contract.
I had a chance to attend practice for the Timbers back on January 27 and the experience forced me to try and balance a practical look at the Portland Timbers for 2015 with unbridled optimism. At least for now, I'm excited about the mix of players and hope they can balance the energy and passion from the early portion of the season over the long haul with unexpected challenges looming on the horizon.
The next player draft for MLS took place on January 20 when the league completed the final two rounds of the MLS Super Draft. Portland had two selections in the festivities and added two additional young players that could add depth for the future and potential starters for the Timbers 2 USL Pro team that starts play later this spring.
The first stage of the 2015 MLS Super Draft took place as part of the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia, PA with all 20 MLS teams making picks of recently graduated or allocated player from college programs. 42 players were allocated to the various clubs in the first two rounds of four total, and the Portland Timbers picked up four players with varying backgrounds and experience.
The Timbers Mailbag gets opened with questions about current transactions, Timbers news and MLS rules in general, and we do our best to address them while the 2015 MLS Super Draft adds new depth for Portland.
Just before the Portland Timbers released their full 2015 schedule, the team announced the re-signing of forward Gaston Fernandez to a contract for the 2015 season. The terms and conditions were not announced, but with Diego Valeri and Will Johnson recovering from injury, the return of "La Gata" was thought by many to be extremely vital for the upcoming campaign.
With news slowing down for the holidays, I take a look back at the most recent updates in Portland Timbers news just before 2015 begins. January expects to be busy with a full schedule release and more player news, but there were some important moves made to finish 2014.
Major League Soccer staged two separate drafts on December 10 in their first big off-season movement, giving their two newest clubs - New York City FC and Orlando City - a chance to populate their rosters. With Portland keeping 11 current players plus a handful more on other roster exceptions, the team was nervous about big losses but ended up losing just one player on the day - goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
There was plenty of player movement on December 8 as the Portland Timbers announced several moves. While they did mostly concentrate on correcting defensive deficiencies that plagued the 2014 season, they also added some offensive weaponry while they continue to negotiate with Gaston Fernandez about a return to Portland.
The offseason for the Portland Timbers gets started a bit earlier than they had anticipated with the November 19 MLS Dispersal Draft. The league dissolved the former Chivas USA club after the 2014 season, and the festivities will give existing MLS teams (including the new additions for 2015, Orlando City and New York City FC) a chance to add some veteran talent.
The Portland Timbers were hoping against the odds that they could sneak their way into the MLS postseason, but they would need a win versus FC Dallas and a Vancouver draw or loss to Colorado later in the day. While the Timbers did their part in getting a win in Texas behind Darlington Nagbe's first goal of the 2014 regular season, but Vancouver beat Colorado to earn the fifth spot and end the Timbers' season.
After an emotional week that saw the Portland Timbers bounced from the CONCACAF Champions League, the team turns their attention to their final regular season match in 2014 in Dallas. There is still a chance for the playoffs, but they will be facing an FC Dallas team that has something to play for as well in addition to needing help from Vancouver in their match hosting Colorado.
We have complete player evaluations for the Portland Timbers from their scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake back on October 17. There are ratings for every Timbers player that appeared in the match, plus composite ratings for the team, coaches, opponent and officiating.
The Portland Timbers were hoping to move closer to secure their postseason plans in hosting Real Salt Lake on October 17 at Providence Park, but RSL had other designs to help their post season positioning. While the Timbers applied relentless pressure on goal, they couldn't find anything to break past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando as the teams played to a scoreless draw.
The final regular season match at Providence Park is happening on October 17 for the Portland Timbers, and it's been an interesting season to say the least. While the Timbers have set team records for offense, their playoff future isn't secure with two matches left - and the team will need help in order to secure any sort of postseason date.
The Portland Timbers took a big step in terms of player development with the announcement on October 14 of the creation of their own USL Pro affiliate, labeled Timbers 2 or T2 for short. The new club, playing their home matches at the University of Portland, will give the team a professional team locally with the express design of nurturing and honing younger soccer talent.
We have complete player evaluations for the Portland Timbers in their 3 to 0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on October 8 at home. Included are marks for every individual player that appeared, plus composite ratings for the coaches, officials, opponent and entire team.
The Portland Timbers were hoping to make a statement while putting pressure on other teams in the Western Conference playoff chase, and they got the chance versus San Jose, a club they had defeated back on October 4 on the road. With Rodney Wallace scoring his third goal against the Earthquakes of 2014 and Diego Valeri tallying a second half brace, the Timbers secured a 3 to 0 victory to jump into fifth place in the West for now.
With an unfortunate incident in gardening keeping me away from the Blog for a few days, I'm playing catchup before the October 8 battle between Portland and San Jose. Four days earlier, the team earned a huge win in Santa Clara over the Earthquakes behind a brace from Rodney Wallace, but the return trip to Portland could be tough for San Jose as they are missing several key players.
The Portland Timbers fight for their playoff lives on October 4 when they travel to San Jose to face the Earthquakes in MLS league play. The two teams have staged several contentious, close battles over the years, and the stakes for this match are huge for the visitors. They will need to earn the victory without two key components of their attack as well, but the Timbers have rallied against the odds many times before.
With a slight break in the schedule, we open up the Timbers mailbag to talk about the playoffs, 2015 expansion, and some of the other topics about the Portland Timbers going on before their big match in San Jose on October 4.
We have complete player evaulations from the Portland Timbers 3 to 2 loss to Toronto FC back on September 27. There are marks for every Portland Timbers player that appeared in the match in addition to marks for the coaches, opponent and officials.
The Portland Timbers wanted to continue the momentum gained from strong play recently, and certainly had things their way against Toronto FC with a 2 goal lead despite losing Will Johnson to injury. Unfortunately, defensive woes on set pieces allowed Toronto FC to come back to secure a 3 to 2 win.
We have complete player ratings from the Portland Timbers 3 to 0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on September 20 at home. Included are individual ratings for every Timbers player that appeared plus composite scores for the team, coaches, officials and opponent.
The Portland Timbers were hoping for a dominant effort at home to give their postseason aspirations a big boost, especially with the Vancouver Whitecaps - the team just above them in the playoff chase in the fifth spot - visiting. The Timbers used an organized defense, flair from Diego Valeri and two scores from Fanendo Adi to secure a 3 to 0 victory over their Canadian Cascadian rivals.
While it's one match within the schedule, the stakes between the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps in their September 20th meeting couldn't be higher. With the Caps sitting in fifth place hoping to stay in the playoffs while Portland sits in sixth just one point back, there is plenty to battle for between these sides that just Cascadia pride.
The Portland Timbers were hosting their first ever CONCACAF Champions League fixture when CD Olimpia from Honduras visited Providence Park for a group stage match. Olimpia currently lead the group after two wins over Alpha United, but the visitors fell behind early via goals from Maximiliano Urruti and Will Johnson.
We have complete player evaluations from the Portland Timbers 2 all draw versus the Colorado Rapids from their September 13th match in Denver. There are ratings for every Portland Timbers player that appeared, plus marks for the coaches, opponent, officials and a team rating.
The Portland Timbers had hoped to regain fifth place in the Western Conference and help their playoff hopes, but in order to do that, they would need to win in Colorado against the Colorado Rapids - a place that hasn't been very good to them historically. While Diego Valeri staked them to a lead, the Timbers had to rally late behind a Gaston Fernandez goal to secure a 2 all draw on the road.
The Portland Timbers renew their chase to secure the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings and reserve a spot in the playoffs when they travel to Denver, Colorado to play the Colorado Rapids for the third time this season. While history hasn't been too kind to the Timbers in previous visits, Portland has all of their available weapons healthy and ready to go while Colorado is dealing with various lineup absences that could alter their attack.
We have complete player evaluations from the Portland Timbers 3 all draw versus the San Jose Earthquakes, including marks for each player that appeared, coaches, officiating, opponent, and an overall mark.
The Portland Timbers were hoping to build off the positive vibes earned from a big win in Vancouver in their last match to push them above the red line with a home date with the San Jose Earthquakes. While their offense was up to task with three goals, the defense fell apart at inopportune times which allowed the Earthquakes to tally three goals of their own as the teams played to a frenetic, frustrating draw.
Within the craziness of the 2014 schedule is the fact that this will be the first regular season meeting of the year between the San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers. With their varied styles - San Jose playing physical to try and control tempo, Portland with quick passing and movement - the systems couldn't be more different as the teams battle at Providence Park on September 7.
We have complete player evaluations from the Portland Timbers' 3 to 0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps back on August 30. There are ratings for every Timbers player that appeared plus composite ratings for the coaches, team, opponent and officials.
The Portland Timbers were hoping to vault into the playoff picture, but they would have to beat their Canadian rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps, up in Canada in order to do it. After an evenly played first half, the Timbers exploded for three goals while their defense held up very well after being reorganized by the coaches.
A key battle will occur this weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia as the Portland Timbers visit the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Caps currently sit in fifth place in the West, just points ahead of the Timbers, so a Portland win could push them over the red line. Vancouver won't be an easy out, though, as they have designs to avoid a late season swoon while trying to keep the Cascadia Cup in Canada for the 2015 season.
We have complete player evaluations from the Portland Timbers third match with the Seattle Sounders FC that resulted in a 4 to 2 loss for the home side. There are ratings for every Portland Timbers player that appeared, plus rankings for the coaches, team, and officials.