According to a tweet from the intrepid Chris Rifer, the Portland Timbers will be welcoming the Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Fire, and Norway's Stabaek Fotball to town for the team's fourth annual preseason tournament. The tournament, last year dubbed the Rose City Invitational, will run from Feb. 22-28.
Update: The Timbers have announced a new partnership with online banking company Simple and will be re-branding the "Rose City Invitational" as the "Simple Invitational", as well as including simple branding on their warmup kits for the 2015 season.
Timbers preseason tournament will be held Feb. 22-28 and include the Timbers, Vancouver, Chicago Fire, and Bob Bradley's Stabaek. #rctid— Chris Rifer (@ChrisRifer) December 15, 2014
The new lineup represents the first year of the Timbers' preseason tournament will be without the San Jose Earthquakes. The Fire and Stabaek are newcomers to Portland for the preseason, while the Whitecaps participated in the 2013 version of the tournament alongside the Earthquakes and Jamaica's Portmore United.
The Fire and Whitecaps both promise to be bringing in some new faces before the tournament kicks off as the two teams have already cleared up significant space on their respective rosters during the offseason.
In the early going of the 2014-15 offseason, the Fire have been one of the more active teams in the league, seeing half of their team appear on the outgoing side of the MLS Transactions report. Meanwhile, the Fire have been busy bringing players in as well, signing former AIK striker Kennedy Igboananike to a designated player contract, former LA Galaxy and Stabaek midfield Michael Stephens, and several others early in the offseason.
For their part, the Whitecaps have cleared up some space on their roster by losing ten players so far this offseason, but the team has not yet made any notable moves. The players on the way out at Vancouver include a number of their attacking options, such as first year men Sebastian Fernandez and Nicholas Mezquida, and the venerable Mauro Rosales.
The out-of-towners, Stabaek, are certainly notable for being helmed by former USMNT coach Bob Bradley. Since taking over in January of this year, Bradley has steered "De Blaa" to a 16-14-7 record in all competitions, placing ninth in the Tippeligaen in the team's first year back in Norway's top flight after a one year stop off in the 1. Divisjon.
Stabaek is not a team with a number of star players on the roster and are still rebuilding their squad after losing a number of players following the team's relegation in 2012. The team's contingent from the Ivory Coast does appear to be somewhat exciting to see, however. Keeper Sayouba Mande made the Ivorian World Cup squad after getting a single cap early in 2014, while striker Franck Boli, 21, lead the team in scoring with 13 goals in 30 games.
How do you feel about the new Rose City Invitational line-up? Do you miss the Earthquakes and their charming fans already?