The MLS is Back Tournament champions, Portland added to their trophy cabinet in 2020 and aim to do so once again in 2021. A deep and talented squad, Portland are among the contenders in both MLS and the Concacaf Champions League.
Diego Valeri and Diego Chara have continued to extend their primes, two club legends still operating at a high level, with plenty of others to help carry the load.
- MLS Reg. Season: 3rd in Western Conference (39 pts - 1.70 PPG - 11-6-6, +11 GD)
- Audi MLS Cup Playoffs: Eliminated in Round One by FC Dallas, 1-1 (8-7 on penalties)
Blanco was operating at an MVP-level before he tore his ACL in one of the club’s first games following the MLS is Back Tournament. The good news? The winger is back to training and there’s optimism he’ll be ready for the start of the season.
In Valeri’s age-34 season in 2020, he had eight goals and seven assists in 1,628 minutes. He’s aging wonderfully and, when the team is at full strength, Gio Savarese can properly manage his workload.
Chara, too, seemed to defy the odds by starting 20 of Portland’s 23 matches last year, performing at his accustomed high level.
Young Player to Watch
The Venezuelan youth international right back got his first taste of MLS action in 2020, though is likely to be second choice in 2021 with the arrival of JoseCarlos Van Rankin. With a hectic schedule, though, he’ll get plenty of minutes.
- Claudio Bravo: Bravo is well-regarded in Portland following the Argentine U-23 international's arrival from Banfield. The left back is expected to feature for Argentina at the Olympics.
- Josecarlos Van Rankin: Right back will get a new look as well, with Van Rankin signing on loan from Chivas. He can also play on the left, giving Savarese flexibility when rotating defenders.
- Jorge Villafana: The first of two left backs heading out to Los Angeles, Villafana was traded to the Galaxy. He was a regular for the Timbers across two stints from 2014-15 then 2018-20.
- Marco Farfan: Farfan was traded to LAFC, as the left back position got a major shuffle this winter. He got his first season of regular playing time in 2020, making 14 appearances.
Projected Starting XI
- Goalkeepers (4): Jeff Attinella, Steve Clark, Aljaz Ivacic, Hunter Sulte
- Defenders (8): Pablo Bonilla, Claudio Bravo, Ish Jome, Larrys Mabiala, Zac McGraw, Bill Tuiloma, Josecarlos Van Rankin, Dario Zuparic
- Midfielders (13): Darion Asprilla, Sebastian Blanco, Blake Bodily, Diego Chara, Yimmi Chara, Jorge Gonzalez, Martin Loria, Christhian Paredes, Andy Polo, Diego Valeri, Eryk Williamson, Renzo Zambrano
- Forwards (3): Jeremy Ebobisse, Felipe Mora, Jaroslaw Niezgoda
Armchair Analyst's Breakdown
- Strength: This roster is as deep as almost anybody in the league at nine of 11 spots, and most of those guys in the midfield and along the front line are solidly in the argument for top five in the league at their respective positions. We saw last summer what that means when the Timbers get rolling.
- Weakness: There’s a pretty flagrant lack of depth at both fullbacks and there are reasonable questions about the top-end talent’s ability to perform week after week given that Diegos Chara & Valeri are each about to turn 35, while DP attackers Sebastian Blanco and Jaroslaw Niezgoda are both coming off of major knee injuries.
- Charles Boehm: 4th in West
- Tom Bogert: 2nd in West
- Susannah Collins: 1st in West
- Matthew Doyle: 2nd in West
- Sam Jones: 2nd in West
- Michael Lahoud: 1st in West
- Joe Lowery: 4th in West
- Jillian Sakovits: 1st in West
- Greg Seltzer: 2nd in West
- Steve Zakuani: 3rd in West