With the Timbers' rebuild still in progress, the Stumptown Footy editors put our heads together and came up with our most pressing questions for the week before preseason training begins. Several of our questions are the same ones that Timbers fans have been asking since this time last year; several could be answered in the next few days; several we won't know the answer to until the season is underway.
Our most pressing questions:
What is the status of Jose Adolfo Valencia?
Back on January 8th, Merritt Paulson tweeted that "Trencito also will be completed in 24 hours", but here we are one week later with no news on the young Colombian. Complicating matters is the fact that, with the addition of Diego Valeri, the Timbers are now carrying three designated players. It has been long rumored that the Timbers would be renegotiating Trencito's transfer so that he does not require a DP slot, but the inclusion of Valeri and the near impossibility of dealing Kris Boyd seemingly makes that renegotiation a necessity.
Who is our other fullback going to be and where is he going to come from?
When the Timbers traded Kimura, waived Palmer, and acquired Michael Harrington as soon as the off season started, it was a good indication that the club was serious about improving the position that has been a pretty constant issue these last two seasons. But after adding Harrington, the Timbers fell quiet on that front, and ensuing trades focused on bolstering the midfield and the attack. With the preseason upon us, a right back is the one glaring hole left in the roster. Is another trade or international signing in the works or is our other fullback already on the roster in the form of Jack Jewsbury, Ryan Kawulok, or perhaps a winger who will be converted to right back? In spite the positive changes the Timbers have made, I won't really feel comfortable with our roster until we have an answer.
How will Caleb Porter make use of his glut of strikers?
By my count, nine Timbers players are currently listed as strikers (including Darlington Nagbe but not including Franck Songo'o), accounting for nearly a third of the roster, competing for a maximum of three spots in the lineup (and quite likely fewer than that). How will Porter cycle them into the rotation whilst also establishing a rhythm and keeping the players' confidence high? Will a couple more strikers be donning LA Blues kits again this year? Or have we yet to see a deal to send one or two of them away in exchange for a massive defensive upgrade?
With only three to five spots available in the midfield which midfielder could be on the outside looking in?
Based on how little playing time Kalif Alhassan received last year I would think Kalif will be one player who will not even make the game day squad on a regular basis. There is also the possibility of Eric Alexander not seeing any playing time, especially with the acquisition of Diego Valeri.
Those are the roster questions that are on our minds, what are yours?