In the preseason of 2012, all was happy, merry and generally positive with everything concerning the team. The Portland Timbers were coming off a decently successful first year just barely missing the playoffs. A big new designated player was brought on to help score the goals. Everything was generally looking like it was going to be a hugely successful 2nd year, something few other MLS expansion sides were capable of doing so early on in their MLS history.
And then the cracks started to show. The miracle team of 2011 suddenly looked to be in shambles. Kris Boyd wasn't scoring goals at the rate that was promised. The Timbers defensive back line was not bolstered by incoming Colombian Hanyer Mosquera. The midfield was painfully lack any creativity. All in all, the team just wasn't what everybody expected it to be and half way through 2012, most fans had given up hope of making it to the MLS playoffs.
Fast forward to today and we're in much the same situation. The team is coming off a successful preseason. A big, shiny new designated player has thus far been impressive. New additions and a new coach are generally increasing hope for a successful 2013 season. You can almost feel the hope that Timbers fans are starting to bubble up with... I'm here to temper that hope a little bit.
The team that Caleb Porter has put together is doubtlessly impressive on paper. Diego Valeri has proven thus far to be everything we needed, Will Johnson was a tremendous catch, and the additions of Ryan Johnson and Milos Kocic have s far turned out to be shrewd trades. Even the Timbers 34th overall SuperDraft pick, Dylan Tucker-Gangnes is turning out to be a smart choice.
But through all that, 2013 is still a rebuilding year. We've seen a dozen other attempts my teams to rebuild. Sometimes ultimately successful (Real Salt Lake), sometimes a miserable failure (Toronto FC). What we don't see very often, however, is the rebuild process taking just a single off season to complete. Real Salt Lake went from the very worst team in the league to one of the very best and most consistent teams, but it took them the better part of three seasons to do it.
The Portland Timbers, under Caleb Porter, have a reasonable shot at becoming a consistent club up there with the likes of Real Salt Lake and even the Seattle Sounders (I know... boo, hiss) but it's important to remember that it might take a little longer than you would like.
So, during this upcoming season when the Portland Timbers eventually go on their first 3-4 (maybe 5) game losing streak, it's extremely important to remember that this is part of the process. Should we expect them to do better that last year? Absolutely. Should we expect them to be flawless? Absolutely not.
What are your hopes and expectations for the upcoming 2013 season?