New head coach, a bunch of new exciting players, more trades, more chances to win hardware... There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful if your a Portland Timbers fan this year. After all, change often begets hope in that said change will lead to success rather than disaster. So far, since Caleb Porter officially took over, the team has been recruiting in all the right ways.
Unfortunately, some of us might be a bit more reserved than usual given the state of affairs in 2012. Those who were with us one year ago will remember a similar form of optimism brewing as the Timbers finished in solidly mid-table in 2011. Most of us thought 2012 was going to be even better only to have your hopes and dreams crushed about two and a half months in.
So with that said, what are you expecting this year?
Personally, for the Timbers, I'm tempering myself a bit. Instead of making grand wishes, I'm going to say that I expect a rebuilding year which often leads to rough play and uneasy games. I expect the Timbers to do better than 2012, certainly, but I don't necessarily expect a play-off berth or serious hardware. Even the Cascadia Cup will be a challenge this year. That said, I do expect the Timbers to go farther in the US Open Cup than they did in 2012.
For the Portland Thorns FC, I'll refrain from commenting on the on-field successes since we don't even know what the team will look like yet. Instead, I expect them to perform moderately well off-the-field. I expect at least a handful of 10,000+ attended matches and an overall high attendance average for their home games. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if they turn out to be the best supported NWSL team.
For MLS, I expect a slight downturn in growth from what we've experienced in the last 3-4 years. This is because it's the first year in seven where the league did not add a new expansion side. I expect attendance to hold steady where its at, with some teams (Chivas USA, New England Revolution) trending downward in attendance but others (DC United, Columbus Crew) to do better, if only slightly. All in all, I see 2013 as a year for the league to show consistency if nothing else. With the World Cup taking place in 2014 and both the ESPN and NBC contracts up for renewal, MLS will need to show it can, at the very least, be consistent when they're not adding a new hot commodity team to the league.
What are you expecting in 2013?