The Portland Timbers' preparations for the 2022 MLS regular season just got a bit more difficult.
Starting center backs Larrys Mabiala and Dario Zuparic both recently underwent successful surgeries to repair sports hernias, procedures that should keep the duo out approximately six weeks, the club announced Friday.
The Timbers open their Western Conference title defense on Feb. 26 when hosting defending Supporters' Shield champions New England Revolution at Providence Park.
In 2021, Mabiala and Zuparic combined to make 57 regular-season appearances (51 starts) and were manager Giovanni Savarese's first-choice duo throughout their run to Portland's third MLS Cup appearance.
Savarese could lean heavily on Bill Tuiloma in the pair's absence. The New Zealand international made 27 appearances (19 starts) last regular season.
Zac McGraw is the next most-seasoned option in the squad after playing in 11 games during his second MLS season.
Zuparic developed a hernia last season, according to the club, and eventually opted for surgery after initially trying to recover through rest and treatment. Mabiala's hernia first presented this week, the club said.
The Timbers dealt with double-digit injury absences at times last season while managing both the start of league play and the Concacaf Champions League. They aren't playing in the latter competition in 2022 after losing MLS Cup on penalty kicks to New York City FC.