The Portland Timbers get back in gear
By Zachary Lerman /// Staff Writer
Last December, the Timbers won their first MLS Cup in amazing fashion after beating the Columbus Crew 2-1. This is the Timbers’ first title in their short history as a professional franchise. It was Portland’s first title since the Trailblazers won the NBA Finals in 1977. So, expectations for this season will be high as the Timbers look to repeat as Cup Champions.
On March 6, the Timbers started their season against the team they defeated to win the cup, Columbus at Providence Park (which the Timbers won, 2-1). The squad that faced Columbus on Sunday is different from the one that won MLS Cup only three months ago. With emerging fullback Jorge Villafaña went to Santos Laguna, captain and midfielder Will Johnson joining up with Toronto FC and star substitute forward Maximiliano Urutti left for FC Dallas, some of the main pieces from last year’s title team are missing. However, the Timbers have added some attacking talent to get Rose City excited. The Timbers added midfielder and experienced play-maker Ned Grabavoy from NYCFC and the young attacking prodigy of Jack McInenery from the Crew. Besides these notable transfers, the core from last year’s title winning team will all be there. Overall, Portland looks to have added depth and youth to the squad because this season will be much longer than last season.
This is due to the fact that they will be playing in the 2016-2017 CONCACAF Champions League later in the campaign. In this tournament they will take on clubs from Central America, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. This tournament will be played from Aug. 2016-Apr. 2017 and will give the Timbers a chance to push their brand overseas and to solidify them as one of the American soccer powerhouses for years to come.
The upcoming season for the Timbers looks to be very exciting. A chance to repeat MLS Cup and play in an international tournament should give the Rose City a treat. Though as always, the campaign in MLS will be tough with the relative parity that the league provides, and no game in this season will be an easy win.