Portland Timbers

04 December 6:46 de la tarde

Por tercera temporada consecutiva, Portland tendrá un equipo profesional de fútbol en la ciudad que ellos mismos denominan “Soccer City, USA”.

Y, además de los traspasos que han llevado a cabo hasta el momento, los Timbers tendrán desde hoy la plena seguridad que su estadio JELD-WEN Field contará con el mismo apoyo que hasta hoy han tenido en las gradas.

Los leñadores han anunciado que ya se vendieron por completo todos los abonos para la temporada 2013, renovando 96% de sus abonados de este año.

Una de las fanaticadas más impresionantes de la MLS, vuelve a responder… Las palabras sobran, así que disfruten de las imágenes:

Y si quedaron con ganas de más, el volante mexicano del Valencia español, Andrés Guardado, y el colombiano de los Timbers Diego Chará, nos llevan a la tribuna de Timbers Army:

04 December 4:32 de la tarde

Give Caleb Porter some credit. The new Timbers head man wasted no time in proving he's plenty clever enough to navigate the MLS rulebook.

So clever, in fact, that he broke some MLS ground on Monday by convincing New York to throw in the Homegrown rights to Akron sophomore Bryan Gallego in a trade for Kosuke Kimura.

It's not the first time a Homegrown player has changed hands via trade in MLS – Colorado acquired Josh Janniere from Toronto – but it's the first time an unsigned Homegrown player has been included in a transaction (Janniere was signed by TFC as a condition of the deal). Now, nobody can be sure the US U-20 prospect will actually put pen to paper with the Timbers just yet, but it's still a great bit of business by the Portland boss, especially since he has first-hand knowledge of Gallego from coaching him the past two years at Akron.

Of course, the question going forward is whether or not this trade will add Homegrown rights to the list of assets clubs bring to the bargaining table. Is Porter blazing a path no one will follow, or will college players tied to MLS academies become the next big trade chip, a la minor-league prospects in Major League Baseball?

I'm already convinced that the next step in player development is not actually academy-to-MLS signings. Instead, the logical way forward, for the time being at least, is to develop players in the academy and send them off to a prominent college program to ensure they're ready for the rigors of MLS without impacting the salary cap or 30-man roster. Once the the time is right, clubs can sign the prospects ready to make the jump without using a SuperDraft pick or risking another team reaping the rewards of their developmental efforts.

Clearly, some players will have the chops – and enough interest outside of MLS – to force clubs to lock them up early and send them straight from the academy to the first team. Zach Pfeffer, who just sealed a year-long loan move to Hoffenheim at 17 years of age, is a perfect example.

And for those preparing the bash the college system as a developmental route, take a quick look at your team's roster. Odds are there are handful of college products in the starting lineup, and the likes of Chris Wondolowski, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Will Bruin, Graham Zusi and Chris Pontius (among many, many others) can all thank NCAA soccer for helping them prepare for success in MLS.

Is it perfect? No chance. Can MLS teams make it work to their advantage? That's been proven time and time again.

What do you think? What role, if any, will Homegrown rights play this offseason and in the years ahead?

04 December 4:07 de la tarde

Il n’aura pas fallu attendre longtemps après la finale de la Coupe MLS pour voir le marché des transferts s’animer. Trois clubs ont déjà été particulièrement actifs : Salt Lake, New York et Portland.

La grande lessive était annoncée dans l’Utah après l’élimination en demi-finale de conférence contre Seattle. Les premiers bouleversements dans un noyau stable depuis plusieurs années se concrétisent avec les départs des valeurs sûres que sont Olave, Espindola et Johnson, prélude à la quête d’une nouvelle vedette offensive. Notons aussi le transfert de Justin Braun à Toronto en échange d’Aaron Maund. Ces changements n’annoncent toutefois pas un départ à zéro, puisque Salt Lake conserve d’autres joueurs clefs comme Beckerman, Saborio ou Morales.

Olave et Espindola ont pris la direction de New York qui a aussi attiré Kimura, défenseur de Portland. Selon plusieurs analystes, l’équipe sera remodelée pour la saison prochaine, avec un nouveau joueur désigné (la rumeur annonce l’ancien Lyonnais Juninho) mais probablement sans Sébastien Le Toux ni Kenny Cooper, pourtant son meilleur buteur cette saison.

Outre Johnson, Portland est allé chercher Harrington, arrière latéral barré à Kansas City, et ce n’est qu’un début selon le directeur général Gavin Wilkinson, qui annonce un nouveau visage pour son club en 2013. Le défenseur central Eric Brunner n’en sera pas : il a signé à Houston, ce qui laisse présager un départ du Québécois André Hainault.

Dans le même temps, la liste des joueurs admissibles au Processus de repêchage a été dévoilée : avec un contrat qui n’a pas été renouvelé ou dont l’option n’a pas été levée, ils peuvent toujours négocier avec leur club actuel mais pourront être recrutés par une autre formation ce vendredi. Parmi eux, quelques noms ronflants comme Segares ou De Guzman. Eh oui, encore beaucoup d’animation en vue cette semaine sur le marché !

03 December 8:23 de la tarde

By now you've probably seen "the list," the group of guys available for the third-ever MLS Re-Entry process, which includes Stage One and Stage Two Re-Entry Drafts on Dec. 7 and 14.

Things could certainly change between now and then – guys could opt out of the process, come to new terms with their clubs, be traded to another MLS team or head overseas – but I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of lineup you could pluck from those made available by their clubs.

Without too much in-depth research, below is my Re-Entry XI. Feel free to discuss and share yours in the comment section below.

Goalkeeper: Kevin Hartman

Defense (left to right): Gonzalo Segares, Marvell Wynne, Ike Opara, Jeremy Hall 

Midfield (left to right): Justin Mapp, Julian de Guzman, Tony Tchani, Eric Avila

Forwards: Juan Pablo Ángel, Maicon Santos

03 December 3:19 de la tarde

Somehow this little bit of news slipped through the cracks last week.

While most eyes around here were focused on the MLS Cup final, Portland Timbers forward Kris Boyd and Vancouver Whitecaps forward Kenny Miller hit the training pitch with their former club, Rangers, over in Scotland.

They trained with the first team, giving the younger players in the side "a wee education," as manager Ally McCoist put it.

"I’ve always said that if you play for this club it never leaves you," McCoist told about Boyd's return. "There’s no doubt about that.

From 2006-2010, Boyd scored 127 goals for the 'Gers, winning the Scottish Premier League Golden Boot four times during that period. Rangers were banished this year to the country's fourth tier due to financial insolvency, but they won two Premier League titles during Boyd's time there.

Miller saw similar success for the Light Blues, notching 146 goals in all competitions in two separate stints at Ibrox. He won the Golden Boot in 2011, capping a three-year run that saw the 'Gers three-peat as SPL champions.

Should we read into their appearance at Rangers' training facility, Auchenhowie? Probably not. In fact, considering that both players failed to live up to expectations in 2012, the extra work can only help.

PHOTO GALLERY: Boyd & Miller back at Rangers

30 October 8:47 de la tarde

The playoffs are upon us, but if that isn't enough to satiate your thirst for soccer, we've got another contest to keep you busy throughout November.

Yes, it's time to select another AT&T Goal of the Year. Just like 2011, 64 of the year's best strikes – including all 31 AT&T Goal of the Week winners – are up for nomination, and a fan vote will whittle the field down all the way down to the year's best strike.

Whose goal are you looking forward to seeing in contention? One of David Beckham's many wonderstrikes? Or perhaps your tastes run more on the Fredy Montero side?

Tune in to tomorrow, Oct. 31 at 1 pm ET, to find out the first 16 goals up for election and cast your vote!

In the meantime, tide yourself over with last year's winner, an absolute stunner from the Portland Timbers' then-rookie, Darlington Nagbe:

30 October 12:16 de la tarde

The San Jose Earthquakes topped the final regular season installment of the MLS Power Rankings on Tuesday, and it was a fitting end to an impressive season for the Quakes. Although they were one the season’s biggest surprises ( had them ranked No. 9 at First Kick), the Quakes ascended to the top spot in Week 16 and never really let up.

In fact, the Quakes held the top spot in the Power Rankings for 17 weeks this season (tops among all teams), and led the way for 14 consecutive weeks after reaching the top midway through the season. They relinquished their spot just once - to Sporting Kansas City in Week 30 – but claimed it again the next week and carried the torch each of the final three weeks of the season.

Some other notes on Power Rankings this season:

  • The biggest surprise of the year was easily D.C. United, who came in at No. 16 at the First Kick poll in early March and finished the regular season at No. 3. They also proved to be one of the most volatile teams on the poll this year, rising to No. 2 in Week 15 before plummeting back to No. 12 as late as Week 28 before they surged down the stretch to finish in the top 3.
  • The biggest disappointment was easily the Portland Timbers, who carried the No. 8 ranking into First Kick and effectively slipped into a free fall from there. They bottomed out at No. 19 in Week 19 and ended up holding that spot for a total of seven weeks this season.
  • Toronto FC led the league with most weeks spent at the No. 19 spot – 14.
  • Six teams held the bottom spot at least once this season – Toronto, Portland, Chivas USA, Philadelphia, FC Dallas and Montreal. The Impact held that spot at First Kick but never graced it again after Week 4.
  • Five teams held the No. 1 ranking at some point this season – San Jose, Sporting Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, Seattle and the LA Galaxy. The Galaxy held it at First Kick and never got it back, slipping all the way down to No. 17 in Weeks 11 and 12. The swing of 16 spots is the largest of any team in the rankings this season.
  • The most stable team this season was Sporting Kansas City, who never fell lower than No. 7 and spent a total of seven weeks at No. 1. The Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake both bottomed at No. 8 and reached No. 1 at various points in the season.
  • The Houston Dynamo also never fell outside of the top 10 at any point this season, falling as low as No. 9 and rising as high as No. 2 in Week 22.
  • The biggest one-week jump of any team this season belonged to San Jose, who leaped from No. 9 to No. 3 in Week 4 after a 1-0 win in Seattle. The Quakes never fell lower than No. 4 the rest of the way.
  • The biggest one-week drop also came in Week 4. FC Dallas plummeted from No. 6 to No. 15 after a 4-1 loss at D.C. United.
  • The Vancouver Whitecaps are the only playoff team not ranked in the top 10 at the end of the season. They fell to No. 12 in Week 25 and have languished outside the top 10 ever since.
  • Chivas USA was only team to go out the way they came in. They were ranked No. 18 at First Kick and finished No. 18 in the final rankings on Tuesday, having never climbed any higher than No. 12.

Note: There were no rankings for Weeks 13-14 due to international dates.


03 October 12:14 de la tarde

Si la saison de Chivas USA s’arrêtera à la fin du mois, le « deuxième » club de Los Angeles, en pleine disette offensive, aura pourtant un rôle crucial à jouer d’ici là. Au cours de ses derniers matchs, il affrontera une fois Vancouver et deux fois Dallas, les deux équipes qui luttent pour le dernier sésame qualificatif dans la conférence Ouest.

Tout commencera ce soir en Colombie-Britannique (22h00 HE), probablement sans Mattocks blessé, avec un Camilo en quête de rédemption et un Matt Watson à son tour encouragé par Martin Rennie, toujours aussi positif. Pour mieux comprendre la situation à Vancouver, ne manquez pas l’émission Coup Franc de la semaine, avec Alain Rochat.

Un peu plus au sud, Portland, lui aussi déjà écarté de la phase finale, pense à la Coupe Cascadia, qui pourrait sauver sa saison. Il pourrait se l’adjuger en cas de bon résultat à Seattle ce dimanche, mais sera reçu chaudement : 66 000 billets ont déjà trouvé preneur !

L’autre rencontre de la soirée opposera Chicago à Philadelphie (20h30 HE). Un match déjà dans l’ombre du déplacement de Chicago à New York ce samedi... lui-même occulté par une nouvelle majeure à New York : l’arrivée du duo Jérôme De Bontin - Gérard Houllier. Le premier, ancien président de l’AS Monaco, prend la place d’Eric Soler au poste de directeur général et se concentrera sur les opérations commerciales du club. Le second, qui a entre autres dirigé Liverpool et l’équipe de France, est pour sa part en charge des aspects sportifs.

20 September 11:42 de la mañana


Seattle se qualifie, le LA Galaxy se fait peur : on peut résumer ainsi la soirée de mercredi des clubs de MLS en Ligue des champions. Aux Puerto Rico Islanders, les Californiens ont été muets offensivement et ont dû compter sur leur gardien Brian Perk pour sauver un point (0-0) : leur qualification se jouera le 25 octobre à Metapan. Seattle est déjà assuré de passer l’hiver au chaud grâce à sa victoire dans un match course-poursuite à Marathon (2-3). De bon augure avant le sommet de samedi contre San José.

D’autant que le leader est passé bien près de la catastrophe dans son match de championnat d’hier : chez lui, il a failli offrir sa première victoire en déplacement à Portland, qui menait 0-2 grâce à deux réalisations de Danny Mwanga. Mais Wondolowski est monté et a marqué deux buts synonymes d’égalisation (2-2).

La première a finalement eu lieu à New York. Après moult difficultés pour se rendre à destination, Kansas City a profité d’erreurs en début de match de l'équipe locale, qui avait pourtant juré qu’on ne l’y reprendrait plus, et lui a infligé sa première défaite à domicile de la saison (0-2).

Dans la lutte pour la cinquième place de la conférence Est, Columbus a remporté une victoire précieuse 1-0 contre Chivas USA grâce à un but tardif de Meram, et met la pression sur DC United qui se déplace ce soir à Philadelphie (direct RDS2, ESPN2, TSN2).

Classements de la Ligue des champions
Classement du championnat
Cliquez sur un résultat pour voir le résumé vidéo

29 August 2:00 de la tarde

Do you like the Caleb Porter signing for Portland? Because I do.

Here are a couple of positives:

He'll likely keep Darlington Nagbe playing like this. Way back in February, everybody in Timbers camp assured me that Nagbe was one of the most talented players in the league. Then head coach John Spencer went so far as to say he's the most talented player in MLS.

I shook it off as a coach predictably trying to build the confidence of a youngster who'd shown flashes, but didn't seem to have the mindset (or a clear position) to be successful. Nagbe didn't score enough to play as a second forward, didn't pass aggressively enough to be a No. 10, and didn't work the flanks like a winger. Barring the Goal of the Year vs. Sporting KC, his 2011 season was, frankly, disappointing. He was a guy you'd want on your side in five-v-five keep-aways, but not in a game that counts.

GOAL: Nagbe puts the Timbers ahead

And that continued to be the story until about three weeks ago. Something clicked, and now Nagbe is a devastating force any time he's in the final third. Y.P. Lee doesn't get left on his rear too often, but that's exactly what happened this weekend when Nagbe scored the opener in the 2-1 win over the Whitecaps.

I'm happy about this not just because the Timbers deserve a bit of luck, but because Nagbe is in the process of getting his US citizenship (and is reportedly fairly close). And anyone who's playing this well, and is that tidy with the ball, will hopefully translate that to the international level.

Porter, of course, coached Nagbe at Akron, and brought the best out of him there. So purely from a "Selfish US Fan" perspective — yes, I like this hire.

I also like what Porter's done with Akron. Recruiting to northeast Ohio is, we'll say, just a bit harder than recruiting to Westwood or Chapel Hill. He had a vision for his program, and saw it out against fairly significant odds.

That success in the college ranks is actually a pretty good predictor of MLS success. It's something I had the chance to talk with Frankie Hejduk about last season, as he was riding the wave to his second Shield/Cup double with one of the great teams in MLS history. He'd done so before, back in 2008 with the Columbus Crew — one of the other great teams in MLS history.

To paraphrase, Hejduk felt that the biggest similarity between the 2011 Galaxy and 2008 Crew was the way the teams were managed. Bruce Arena and Sigi Schmid — the two best managers in MLS history (apologies to Dom Kinnear) — had created an atmosphere that Hejduk compared to college, an atmosphere of competitiveness but unity that he said doesn't often exist at the professional level.

Coming from a guy who's played in the UEFA Champions League, the CONCACAF Champions League, a pair of World Cups and won the Supporters' Shield winners in three different decades, that observation has some weight.

Porter, by all accounts, is cut from the same cloth. A lot of people see a college background as a handicap, but Frankie and I see it as a plus.

And here are the negatives:

Porter's Under-23 Olympic qualifying team was lamentably rigid. He stayed with the 4-3-3 come hell or high water, and the US both burned and drowned. The Canadians exposed his squad badly, and then he failed to adjust for the group finale against El Salvador. You want to forget, but you remember.

It's a case of him failing to make the best use of his available resources. This past U-23 group was loaded with pacey wingers and fullbacks who can cross, and big, strong forwards who can finish those crosses. A 4-4-2 was called for given the personnel — imagine El Salvador trying to contain Terrence Boyd and Will Bruin, just for a moment if you would. It's laughable.

But the adjustment never came. It was 4-3-3 to the very end, and it was ugly. The good news for Timbers fans is that he hasn't been that rigid at Akron, so perhaps it wasn't really his call with the U-23s.

He gets cute and plays guys out of position far too often for my tastes. Sometimes the best bet is just to keep it simple, and he seems to be against doing that a bit too often. I don't know if it's because he's young or if it's just how he's wired, but it definitely puts a ceiling on my expectations from him.

Anybody who watched MLS in 2011 — anybody! — could've told you that Perry Kitchen (another Akron product) was going to struggle at central defense in Olympic qualifying. It was also fairly apparent even at that point that Amobi Okugo would end up being a backliner.

Yet Kitchen spent the tournament in the heart of defense, while Okugo played defensive mid. Five months later, that's practically inconceivable.

Not to sell the job short, but 90 percent of managing is keeping the players pointed in the right direction emotionally and then putting everyone in the right spots on the pitch. I have little doubt that Porter will be successful at the first (I can't stress this enough: Every single player I've talked to who's played for him at any level absolutely loves him).

For the second ... if I were a Timbers fan, that's where my worries would be.