With 2012 just a few days away, I thought it might be appropriate to guide everybody on what we can expect as we hit the new year. For those that weren't with us last year, it's quite the spectacle as January and a bit of February are often the most exciting months in the off season due to all the transfer rumors, transfers, SuperDraft, training, and so much more.
So what can we expect exactly?
1. 2012 MLS SuperDraft
No doubt about it, the Portland Timbers will acquire at least one player. I'm hoping for Matthew Hedges who I think could pair up nicely with Eric Brunner in the center back position. Failing that, perhaps Andrew Jean-Baptiste... maybe. Regardless, I believe the Timbers will come away with at least one player from the SuperDraft, although I wouldn't be at all surprised if they traded their #8 slot for allocation money and/or an international slot (more on that below).
2. At least one more international signing
Just prior the the holidays, the Timbers officially announced the signing of Jose Adolfo Valencia as their second Designated Player. However, we know for a fact, that Gavin Wilkinson has been traveling all over the world to find players and, based on a recent article by MLSsoccer.com, we have absolutely no reason to believe Valencia is the only international player coming in this off-season. Wilkinson has gone on record as saying their are a couple more holes to fill ion the team and that they would like to fill those in this off season.
Which leads me to my next point...
3. Transfer rumors!
December has been a slow month. It always is in the MLS calendar, unfortunately, as most teams are gearing up for the holidays and some much needed time off. January, however, will be a completely different story. As the transfer window officially opens, expect MLS teams to be wheeling and dealing, including the Portland Timbers. We'll be doing our best to stay on top of all these rumors, as usual, but don't expect us to confirm anything until the club does. That's just how we roll.
4. Training Camp Opens
Finally, at some point in mid-January the Timbers will re-open the training camp and bring all our wayward players home from wherever they may be. This means you can expect our regular Timbers training notes and quotes articles to come back with insights on what's happening and key players during each training session. Personally, I'm really looking forward to seeing Valencia training with the team.
Like I said, January is going to be a busy month for MLS in general with lots of wild rumors and transfers happening all around the league. In fact, it's already picking up a bit.
I'll also be starting a weekly Rumor Mill series that'll just compile everything I can find about transfer rumors coming in MLS. Should make for some fun reads.
Anything in particular you're hoping to see this off season?