After last year's flood of off-season news, fans of the Portland Timbers have been remarkably patient as they wait for more news about the team. Bits and pieces have trickled out here and there. The Re-Entry Draft signing of Steve Zakuani, the aquisition of Andrew Weber, and detail about the Rose City Invitational whetted the collective whistle of Timbers fans everywhere, but there are some big announcements that are yet to come.
With that in mind, here are three announcements that have been teased, rumored, and hinted at but have yet to be made official.
1. Big Off-season Signings
Early in the off-season Gavin Wilkinson confirmed that the Timbers were looking for a new forward and a new defender. Since then the rumors have been all over the place, with Gaston Fernandez the most likely target up top for the team.
Why haven't the Timbers announced their big signings? The scars from the abortive signing of Kerrera Gilbert run deep with the Timbers and the likelihood of the team announcing a signing before they are absolutely sure is quite low. The Fernandez signing in particular seemed to involved some extra wrangling, given Estudiantes' need to recoup their losses after being fined for signing him improperly.
When will it happen? Tuesday. At least, that looks like the best bet, given Merritt Paulson's tweet earlier today (since deleted) where he told #RCTID royalty @ShebainPDX that the Timbers would give Toronto their day in the spotlight tomorrow before announcing their newest signings on Tuesday.
2. Jose Adolfo Valencia's Loan
Trencito's long rumored loan to Club Olimpo has been confirmed by the striker, his new club, and been hinted at by Merritt Paulson. Yesterday he even tweeted a picture of himself with several Olimpo players on the club's campus.
Why haven't the Timbers announced Valencia's loan? (Which includes an option to buy, according to some reports.) Again, the chances are that the team is still waiting on every bit of paperwork to be complete before making it official. The experience last year of trying to send both Valencia and Sebastian Rincon out on loan, only to have paperwork issues, appears to have made the Timbers over-cautious here.
When will it happen? We have not gotten any real hints at this one, but it could be any time soon. The Timbers start their preseason in a matter of days and Olimpo kicks off the Toreno Final (the second half of the Argentinian season) in the second week of February, so it has to be in the best interests of both teams to get this sorted out.
3. The Partnership with Sacremento Republic FC
Of all the rumors surrounding the Timbers during the off-season this year, this one has been around the longest. The Timbers have been looking to link up with a USL club in order to get some of their reserves more playing time, rather than the pithy reserve league schedule that MLS clubs have long complained about.
Why haven't the Timbers announced their partnership with Sacremento? The San Jose Earthquakes may have something to do with the delay in announcing this partnership. With the Republic playing practically in San Jose's back-yard, the Earthquakes have protested the link with the Timbers, despite declining a relationship with Sacramento themselves.
When will it happen? This one is hard to tell. The USL has yet to release their schedule for the 2014 season, likely because of hold-ups like this one as they wait to determine if the Timbers' reserves will need to be factored in. Last year the USL schedule was released in the last week of January, so one would have to expect some resolution by then, but there has been very little talk about the Sacramento-Portland link since it was called a "100-percent done deal" back at the start of December.