MLS ’11 Preview: Portland Timbers
Stadium and Location:
PGE Park, Portland Oregon
Coach (with record as MLS coach):
John Spencer (First season as Head Coach)
2010 LEAGUE RESULTS:
3rd in the USL Conference table . (4th Overall)
A 3rd place finish in the USL Conference and 4th overall saw the Timbers round off their time in the USL with a good finish.
Despite making the play-offs it was short lived after a 2-1 aggregate defeat to fellow MLS newcomers Vancouver Whitecaps. They were able to reach the final of the US open cup but an agonizing 4-3 defeat over two legs saw them end the season without a trophy.
ROSTER ADDITIONS: Numerous new faces have joined the club in their inaugural MLS season. Notable newcomers include former Arsenal youngster Kerrea Gilbert who has been brought in to give the defence steel alongside Rodney Wallace. Also head coach John Spencer chose to sign fellow Scotsman Adam Moffat for the midfield meanwhile in attack Kenny Cooper looks set to lead the line with exciting prospect Darlington Nagbe. Troy Perkins was signed as starting goalkeeper.
Former Man United trainee Eddie Johnson was signed from the USL as well as Ugandan Brian Umony on loan. Sal Zizzo moves north from Chivas USA along with Jack Jewsbury who joins from Sporting Kansas.
Defenders Eric Brunner joined former team-mate Moffat in moving from Columbus and David Horst left Real Salt Lake to join the Timbers. Former American U-17 international Jeremy Hall moved from New York to play out wide for the Timbers with Peter Lowry moving from the Chicago Fire.
ROSTER SUBTRACTIONS: Dax McCarty was surprisingly traded to DC United for Rodney Wallace and a 4th round draft pick. Steve Cronin was also allowed to move to the capital in a deal that saw Troy Perkins move the other way. While former DC player Jordan Graye was allowed to join Houston Dynamo. El Salvador international Arturo Alvarez was traded to Real Salt Lake for a 2011 draft pick and Anthony Wallace moved to the Colorado Rapids.
PROJECTED STARTERS: 4-4-2 is likely with potential for 4-5-1.
FORWARDS: Kenny Cooper has clearly been brought in as the figurehead of attack with youngster Nagbe offering the pace alongside him.
MIDFIELD: Jeremy Hall will operate on the right wing with Sal Zizzo on the left. Jewsbury and Lowry will most likely hold the middle of the park with pace out wide looking to exploit Cooper’s target man abilities.
DEFENSE AND GOAL: Troy Perkins will marshal the defence in its premier season. Rodney Wallace will inhabit the left with Gilbert on the right giving real power and pace at full back. Brunner and Goldthwaite will be the centre backs as the team look to form a good understanding quickly.
KEY PLAYER: Kenny Cooper stands out after having decided to return from his German adventure with Munich’s second side 1860. His form for Dallas was good and the Timbers will need that if they are to have a respectable first season.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Darlington Nagbe came with quite expectation with coach John Spencer really excited by the 2nd overall draft pick. It may take him time to settle and learn the tactical side of the game being fresh out of College but when he does Portland could have a real player on their hands.
OUTLOOK: Little to nothing is expected of Portland in their debut season, it’s all about settling the side and building on that as the years progress. The team made some astute signings and if it all clicks who knows a good cup run, maybe even an outside shot at the playoff’s . It’s totally dependant on how quickly the team click and if the bigger names in the squad play to their potential.
PREDICTION: 39 points, 7th in Western Conference