Giovanni Savarese takes over the coaching job in Portland after the Timbers and Caleb Porter parted ways in November.
Portland was stunned in the Western Conference semifinals by the Houston Dynamo, and the former New York Cosmos coach now has the task of getting the club back to the title-winning form of 2015.
Can the Timbers overcome the losses of Porter and midfielder Darlington Nagbe, two legends of the young franchise, or will they take a step back after topping their conference in the 2017 regular season?
How did the Portland Timbers perform in 2017?
2017 finish: First in Western Conference (15-8-11), lost to the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference semifinals
It was another strong season for the Timbers, who only lost once in their final seven games as part of their run to the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Portland lost just twice at Providence Park in the regular season, with that form on the club’s home ground keeping a team that struggled on the road near the top of the conference standings all season.
The form would not hold in the playoffs, though, as the Timbers were topped on their home turf by the Houston Dynamo in the second leg of a conference semifinal clash after at draw in Houston.
Portland’s key offseason losses
The loss of Caleb Porter, who was only the second full-time manager in the club’s history and brought the Timbers their only MLS Cup title in 2015, was massive news at the end of November. Porter’s fingerprints were all over the club in terms of both style of play and roster makeup, and him moving on should count as one of the biggest moves of the MLS offseason.
Perhaps the only news in the league that drew more headlines than Porter’s departure was the blockbuster trade that saw Darlington Nagbe shipped to Atlanta United for a massive amount of allocation money.
Forward Darren Mattocks was traded to D.C. United in December and versatile defender-midfielder Amobi Okugo had his option declined by the team after the 2017 season.
Portland’s key offseason additions
The biggest addition of the offseason could be Peruvian international Andy Polo, who has been brought in from Monarcas Morelia on loan with an option to buy as the club looks to rebuild its attack.
Forward Samuel Armenteros joined from Serie A side Benevento Calcio on a season-long loan, with the club also holding the option to buy him outright, with Club America’s Cristhian Paredes joining in the same manner.
On the other end on the pitch, the Timbers have signed Costa Rican international defender Julio Cascante.
Full Portland Timbers roster entering 2018 season
Goalkeepers: Jeff Attinella, Jake Gleeson, Kendall McIntosh
Defenders: Vytas Andriuskevicius, Jack Barmby, Julio Cascante, Caleb Duvernay, Marco Farfan, Modou Jadama, Larrys Mabiala, Roy Miller, Chance Myers, Alvas Powell, Liam Ridgewell, Zarek Valentin
Midfielders: Victor Arboleda, Dairon Asprilla, Sebastian Blanco, Diego Chara, Andres Flores, David Guzman, Lawrence Olum, Cristhian Paredes, Bill Tuiloma, Diego Valeri, Eryk Williamson
Forwards: Fanendo Adi, Samuel Armenteros, Jeremy Ebobisse, Mamadou Guirassy, Stuart Holthusen, Foster Langsdorf, Lucas Melano, Tim Mueller, Andy Polo
Portland Timbers projected starting lineup
How the Timbers will come out under Savarese remains a bit of a mystery. The club has brought in a number of fresh faces who could contribute right away and has plenty of options.
Mabiala and Cascante look set for a battle for one of the starting center back spots, while new signing Armenteros could force a shift to a two-man front line.
The attack should look a lot like the unit that found success in 2017, with Polo filling Nagbe’s void.
Portland Timbers’ national TV coverage
LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers – Sunday, March 4, at 10 p.m. ET on FS1
FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers – Saturday, March 24, at 3:30 p.m. ET on Univision
Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers – Sunday, April 8, at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN
Portland Timbers vs. New York City FC – Sunday, April 22, at 6 p.m. ET on FS1
Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders – Sunday, May 13, at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN
Portland Timbers vs. LAFC – Saturday, May 19, at 3 p.m. ET on Fox
Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy – Saturday, June 2, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Atlanta United vs. Portland Timbers – Sunday, June 24, at 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox
Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers – Saturday, June 30, at 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox
Los Angeles FC vs. Portland Timbers – Sunday, July 15, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN
Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo – Saturday, July 28, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders – Sunday, Aug. 26, at 9:30 p.m. ET on FS1
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