The Portland Timbers now have an established loan pipeline to the Sacramento Republic FC and will almost certainly be sending several players on loan to the newly formed USL side. Just who the Timbers will send on loan is still up in the air, although Caleb Porter seems to already have some idea of who will be heading south for the season.
[Steven Evans], once he recovers from his back injury, he's already been here for a year, so if he is not going to be in a position where he is going to see minutes he's a good candidate to loan out.
Jake Gleeson is another example because they know the way that we do things, they just need minutes. They need games.
Two players on the outside of the Timbers' game-day 18, Evans, 23, and Gleeson, 24, are on the older end of the developmental spectrum and, having been in the professional game for at least one season each, should know what is expected of them both in practice and in Porter's system.
Newer arrivals, like the Timbers' most recent crop of SuperDraft picks, are in a slightly different situation. With no experience beyond the college game, Porter must choose between molding them himself or sending them away to a team where they will actually see the field.
You've got to balance, with the young players, how much you need to be around them, to develop them, to teach them and bring them along, but then also, if they are not going to play minutes, we might need to get them out on loan...
I think there's a real balance there in developing players. You develop through training, but you also develop through experiences and getting in game situations.
In previous years the Timbers have sent away Bright Dike and Andrew Jean-Baptiste, both of whom returned to play important roles in the first team. With Evans and Gleeson both likely going on loan, who else stands a good chance of being sent to Sacramento and will they be able to make an impact when they return?
Here are three loan possibilities for the Timbers:
Nanchoff spent the second half of the 2013 season on loan with Jonkopings Sodra in Sweden. While he was there, Nanchoff saw significant playing time as he made the field for eleven games, scoring two goals in the process. Unfortunately, an ankle injury and a Timbers' roster already set going into the playoffs prevented him from having any influence on the rest of the Timbers' season.
This year Nanchoff seems to be once again mired in the depth chart behind a number of potentially influential players. At the left wing position he is likely behind Steven Zakuani, Rodney Wallace (on his return from injury), Kalif Alhassan, and potentially Gaston Fernandez or Schillo Tshuma. In the center of the midfield he remains behind Diego Valeri and Kalif Alhassan. Even if Porter were to give Nanchoff a try at fullback, he remains at least third on the depth chart in every position that he plays.
McKenzie, who Porter has repeatedly mentioned his faith in, has not seen the field since the Timbers' ill-fated attempt at using a three-four-three against Real Salt Lake last year. His last minutes before that were in September of 2012.
As it stands, McKenzie seems to be firmly behind the presumed starters, Norberto Paparatto and Pa Modou Kah, as well as the always resilient Futty Danso. Barring another centerback injury crisis (everybody knock on wood, please) the Timbers should not be in immediate need of his services. As such, it likely comes down to Porter's willingness to make use of a rookie player to fill out his squad in training throughout the year. Porter stated on Tuesday that he is comfortable with a defensive unit made up of Paparatto, Kah, Danso, and McKenzie, so it will be up to him to strike a balance between McKenzie's recent lack of games and his need to have the journeyman centerback on hand.
When is a Timbers' rookie not strictly a rookie? When he played two years under Caleb Porter at Akron and a season under Jim Rilatt with the Portland Timbers U-23s. If the Timbers want their youngest players on hand to be taught and molded, they may not have much more to do with Gallego.
Gallego is a player who has long been pegged as having a bright future in the soccer world. Capped for the US at the u-18 level, Gallego seems to have the skills and the mental attributes to step straight into the professional game. His calm on the ball makes him a steady centerback, compensating for his lack of height, and would also translate to the defensive midfield position, where has has been projected to play in MLS. What remains for Gallego is to be tested by the physicality and speed of play of the professional level.