With the MLS Superdraft looming, I was curious about what the people here think the Timbers should do. Not so much about whether they should draft a specific player, but about how the team should approach the draft, and what strategy they should follow when acquiring young American talent.
The Timbers draft eighth in the draft this year, and as many people have noted are looking to make the leap into the playoffs and general Cup contention. While there will certainly be some more veteran related moves coming, the Draft is a great way to add young talent for a good price (great price, if you can get a Gen Adidas player). Unfortunately, the American youth system is still in a stage where it can't be counted on to produce large numbers of elite players, like it can in the NFL. There are diamonds in the rough (See Sapong and Bruin last year), but if the Timbers want an elite player, moving up is likely necessary. This is made even more desirable by the fact that these players will likely have Generation Adidas contracts that don't affect the Cap like normal contracts. In addition, while the Timbers are high on last year's second round pick, Chris Taylor, another player like him would do little to help the Timbers make the playoffs in a difficult Western Conference, at least not for a few years.
On the other hand, the Timbers remain a relatively thin team, especially on defense. Even a few injuries could expose the team, or at the very least force players who aren't ready to take on a more prominent role, which could have very negative effects on a team that now has a tougher road to the playoffs than last year, and hasn't acquired an instant starter yet (though Valencias could have a nice impact as the season wears on). Trading for more picks, either by trading down or sending allocation money, would help the Timbers acquire depth that would help safeguard them in the event of injury, and allow them to compete in other Cups, like the US Open Cup, without wearing their starters out. The downside to this strategy is the MLS Roster limit and cap, which makes it hard to stockpile players.
So, do you see the Timbers as one player away (perhaps an Andrew Wenger), who would be worth giving up something for? Or would you prefer the Timbers either stay put or acquire more picks, building for the future while relying on the current core to take them to the playoffs? Or is there a third strategy you think the Timbers should pursue?