Concurrently, the club’s brain trust is pursuing some top-end roster additions as new head coach Phil Neville takes over.
“We've got ownership's backing to go out there and bring in a top, top DP,” Neville told local media. “I think over the next two or three weeks, there will be some exciting news coming our way.”
Neville didn’t identify positions Portland are targeting, but context clues emerge from the depth chart and offseason moves thus far.
The Timbers have bid farewell to two Designated Players in striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda (contract option declined) and winger Yimmi Chara (transfer to Colombian top-flight side Junior FC). Club-record signing Evander is their remaining DP – and the Brazilian midfielder is eyeing a year-two bump after posting 9g/5a in 27 matches last season.
Whatever develops in the Rose City, center back Kamal Miller (trade with Inter Miami CF) and goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau (free agency) are already key additions. And Neville suggested further acquisitions could involve a hefty price tag.
“You look at the money that's been spent around, particularly the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference now, you need to get these signings right,” the Englishman said. “That means you've got to do your due diligence, your scouting, your recruitment. That's what we're doing.
“I feel with the process we've got in place, we're in a great position and it's nice when you've got the ownership's backing to go out there and bring in the players that you want. Over the next two or three weeks, the Timbers Army I think will be really pleased with who we bring in.”
Big picture, Neville is laser-focused on helping Portland return to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. They hosted the championship game in 2021, but have missed the postseason two years running.
“The aim for this club is to return to where it belongs, and I feel that's qualifying for playoffs,” Neville said. “Once you get into playoffs, anything can happen. So there is an incredible determination and I think you can see that by the changes the club has made in the last two to three months.”
There’s also great respect for what former coaches Caleb Porter and Giovanni Savarese accomplished, helping make Portland one of the league’s biggest expansion success stories.
“This club is used to winning things,” Neville said. “You think about the two previous managers, Caleb and Gio, they got this team to winning MLS Cup and MLS Cup finals.
“There is a pressure and expectation there to deliver, but I wouldn't want it any other way. If there wasn't that expectation, if there wasn't that pressure, then I wouldn't want to be at this football club.”