As the 2014 post-season marches on, the picture of which players will be available heading into this year's December 12th Re-entry Draft is starting to take shape. It has already been revealed that several players are approaching the end of their contracts or may not have their option years picked up by their team next year, so let's take a look at the players that the Portland Timbers might take a flier on in the draft.
The Montreal Impact got things going early when the team announced on Halloween that they will not be picking up the option on former Timber Futty Danso, Matteo Ferrari, James Bissue, and Zakaria Messoudi.
Since then it has come out the Aurelien Collin has yet to come to terms on a new contract with Sporting Kansas City, reports even indicating that there has not been talks between the French defender and the team for several months, and more recently that Real Salt Lake have several players approaching the end of their contracts: Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Abdoulie Mansally, and Cole Grossman.
Any one of these players could be resigned by their club before the draft begins or traded away to be signed by someone else in the brief trade window before the re-entry draft.
The 2013 Re-entry Draft saw six players, including Kenny Cooper and David Horst, traded prior to the draft and a number of players withdrawn from the draft after either retiring or resigning with their team at a lower salary.
The players on the early list are not a varied bunch: a number of veteran defenders, a senior midfielder, and a number of borderline, potentially-unrealized, MLS talents.
Collin, Borchers, and Wingert are by far the most immediately interesting names on the list. Each has been successful in MLS and each is a veteran campaigner, seemingly capable of stepping in an providing instant quality for a team.
With centerback a continuing concern for the Timbers over the course of the 2014 season, Collin and Borchers each provide a tempting partner for Liam Ridgewell in terms of talent. What neither bring to the table, however, is youth or speed. Bringing in either player would be a short-term solution for the Timbers defense, rather than a building block for the future.
Wingert, meanwhile, would provide a different look at left fullback than the Timbers' current starter, Jorge Villafana, instead more resembling the man he replaced, Michael Harrington. Although Wingert is a known quantity, he is somewhat less tempting with Harrington still around. However, given that Harrington is an often-put-forward target for the upcoming expansion draft on December 10th, just two days before the Re-entry Draft, the Timbers could suddenly find themselves with a need for a reliable third fullback.
The final veteran centerback, Futty, would certainly be a great get for the Timbers, but not through the expansion draft. The longest serving Timber at the time of his trade to Montreal, Futty's return to Portland should be as a leader of the currently coalescing Timbers 2 side.
In the center of the pitch, the Timbers are much more stacked with starting caliber players. As such, Ferrari is not much of a temptation for the team. Although he is a veteran player who has more than been around the block, Ferrari would almost certainly cost more than the Timbers should be paying for a player that would be at most 3rd on the depth chart.
Finally, the remain group of players have two easy names to cross off; between them Bissue and Messoudi have zero minutes played in MLS.
The two remaining RSL players, however, are somewhat more intriguing. "Kenny" Mansally has been around MLS for seven years now, despite being only 25, and has made just short of 90 appearances in the league. While he is not a lock to start by any means, Mansally is a versatile player who could certainly contribute to a winning side. Grossman, meanwhile, is a serviceable and versatile midfielder who could step in as a cost-effective backup in the center of the pitch, should the Timbers lost a holding midfielder in the expansion draft.