The Offseason So Far: The two most shocking moves thus far have come from the Rose City. First Caleb Porter resigned out of the blue, and then the Timbers offloaded midfielder Darlington Nagbe (and salary-dumped Gbenga Arokoyo) for a dumptruck of TAM from Atlanta. Add in the departures of Darren Mattocks and Amobi Okugo, and new head coach Giovanni Savarese has a ton of cap flexibility.
He/they may have to use a big chunk of that on the forward slot if rumors of overseas interest in Fanendo Adi prove irresistibly true. Adi, who's in his prime at age 27, has been great for the Timbers with 51 G, 12 A in 8200 minutes, but if he stays, he'd be entering his fifth year in Portland. Prior to his move to Providence Park, his longest tenure with any of his previous clubs was ... two years.
Savarese will have to assess what's up with Adi, and if second-year US youth national team No. 9Jeremy Ebobisse can fill the gap should Adi depart/actually replace him should he stay. He's also got to figure out if Diego Chará is going to be himself again after breaking his foot in the playoffs (he turns 32 in April, by the way), and if he's allowed to sign a center back under the age of 30. For years, the presenting sponsor of the Portland central defense has been the AARP.
I have a suspicion a lot's going to change with this team between now and first kick.
JAN. 2 UPDATE: The December egress has reversed, starting with the arrival of Costa Rican center back Julio Cascante. He should give a much-needed infusion of youth, and also:
That's pretty nice. If Cascante's not a starter, something's gone a little bit wrong.
Three other things to keep an eye on. First is that Peruvian international winger Andy Polo sure seems to be headed to the Rose City. Polo didn't do much for Morelia – just two goals in 25 appearances this past year – but if he's available he makes sense for most teams as a TAM signing.
Second is that Sebastian Blanco may be headed back to Argentina. The DP winger was only very good last year rather than "epoch-making excellent," which is probably what the Timbers expected given what they paid for him.
If Blanco goes, then Polo makes sense as a replacement. If they can get said replacement on TAM, that keeps a DP slot open to answer some questions in central midfield or maybe on the opposite wing.
Expect Savarese to put his contacts to use.
Third, and finally: Portland are going to sign Chris Wondolowski clone Foster Langsdorf as a Homegrown player. Langsdorf scored 36 goals and won three national championships with Stanford over the last three seasons, and even if he doesn't look the part of a high-level player on first glance (like Wondo, right?), he's got an uncanny knack for "right place, right time" goals.
JAN. 24 UPDATE: Polo and Langsdorf arrived. So too did attacking midfielder Andres Flores – who Savarese knows well from his Cosmos days – and center back Modou Jadama, an American of Gambian extraction who'd most recently played in USL, but has also spent time in Chile. The man travels.
These are all good-looking signings from the Timbers, who also went out and made a splash amongst the hardcore by trading for D.C. United's Homegrown central midfielder Eryk Williamson. Williamson had a super-disappointing junior season with Maryland, but the dude was reliably good for the US U-20s (including at the World Cup) and, on occasion, game-breakingly great:
Eryk Williamson with a golazo for USA against El Salvador at CONCACAF U-20 Championship!pic.twitter.com/oEoG1WyvKe— FootballTalentScout (@FTalentScout) March 4, 2017
Have a hit, youngster!
The Timbers still have their core veterans, but now they have very promising youth at every line on the field. This winter has been pretty understated, but it's hard not to like the direction this team seems to be going.
They also still have a bunch of TAM. A BUNCH. So if those kids are going to play, they're going to have to beat out some damn good players ahead of them on the depth chart.