The draft is over and next Friday players report to Portland and the Portland Timbers are hinting they are not done adding to their roster. Rumors are swirling as to who and what position said player plays. All of these leaves us fans in what seems like an internal state of nervous energy.
So lets take a look at what the roster looks like and what we can piece together from tweets and quotes over the last few weeks.
The Portland Timbers have 24 signed and on the roster. The current roster breakdown is 2 Goalkeepers, 9 defenders, 8 midfielders, and 5 forwards. For the breakdown I counted Darlington Nagbe as a midfielder and Rodney Wallace as a defender. MLS 2011 Roster rules state that the first 20 players are the ones who count against the Salary cap and that 21-30 players are the "off budget players". These players consist of all Generation Adidas players and the rest are considered a developmental contract. Home Grown Players do not count against the salary but do take up a roster slot.
Players 21-24 must make at least $42,000 and players 25-30 will earn at least $32,000. However teams can leave the last two spots open and use $35,000 in allocation money for each slot.
What all of that information means is Portland has 2 GA players in Nagbe and Andrew Jean-Baptiste. One Home Grown Player in Brent Richards. They also have 6 (possibly 7) players who fall in the 21-30 roster spot range. Those players are Jake Gleeson, Freddie Braun, Chris Taylor, Brendan King, Bright Dike, Steve Purdy and possibly Eric Alexander as he only made $46,000 last year.
With 9 players either not counting towards the 20 "first team" spots or considered a developmental slot this leaves the Timbers with the ability to sign 7 first team contracts money. However this number could be a lot less depending on if some of the above players listed (Purdy et al) are actually considered "first team" contracts.
The Timbers long rumored 2nd DP was brought to the team after what seemed like weeks of waiting for confirmation of his signing. El Trencito fills a couple of needs the Timbers seemed to be lacking last year. First his dribbling and passing skills are a step above any of the forwards (including Kenny Cooper) on the Timbers roster. For those of you familar with the US national team El Trencito is like Jozy Altidore but with better foot skills.
The hope is to develop El Trencito into a force to be reckoned with in the MLS and then sell him at a profit to Europe. Don't be surprised if he doesn't start and just comes on in spot minutes as a substitute as he acclimates to the MLS.
Baptiste was the defender with the most upside in the 2012 MLS draft. He has the size and skills to fill in immediate spot but will most likely take time to adjust just like Nagbe. He is physically ready for the step up. In time, if he lives up to expectations he will contend for MLS defender of the year.
King was a four year starter at Notre Dame and is another central midfielder who Portland looks to develop. Despite the feeling King doesn't fill a need right now with he is someone who could in a few years replace Captain Jack in the center of the pitch behind Diego Chara. Check out this highlight reel and watch his ease in handling the soccer ball.
Cooper was probably the most polarizing figure in the Portland Timber roster. His high work ethic and nice guy attitude really endeared him to a lot of the TA. However his penchant to succumb to gravity really stuck in the craw of lot of the TA. What ever your feelings towards KC he just did not fit into John Spencer's offensive scheme and his replacement could already be on the roster. The allocation money Portland received will also be a huge asset in signing a possible 3rd designated player
Merritt Paulson has been teasing the twitterverse which essentially say "More signings coming soon". One of those tweets specifically mentioned defensive signings and international. Looks like the announcement may come Tuesday of next week but could come later as the signing is pending league approval. The other quote that has really piqued my interest was one from Gavin Wilkinson:
The LA Galaxy need to make way for the Portland Timbers in the three-DP club. Technical director Gavin Wilkinson says that Timbers ownership is ready to spend for a No. 9 striker "with the ambition that when we bring him in, it's 12, 14 to 16 goals."
What this means is the defensive signing(s) coming up are not going to be DP type money. However they still could be opening day starters. What we can also expect is Portland to add a 3rd goalkeeper and at least one more defender, midfielder and forward to developmental contracts to fill out the reserve roster. Which would bring the roster to 28 to start the season.