Starting tomorrow the Portland Timbers will host their third annual preseason tournament, welcoming the San Jose Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Portmore United to town for six games over the course of seven days. To help prepare for the tournament, we took a look at the three teams coming to town.
Here is everything you need to know about the teams in this year's Rose City Invitational:
San Jose Earthquakes
2013 Record: 14-11-9 (6th place in the Western Conference)
Key Additions: Of the players brought in by the Earthquakes this off season it is hard to point at one as a major upgrade over the team's outgoing pieces. Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, a longtime veteran of the French second division, could be an important part of the team's midfield and defender Brandon Barklage still has some cache behind his name after contributing to the New York Red Bull's Supporters' Shield winning season last year, but there appear to be few game-changers here.
Key Losses: Remember when San Jose won the Supporters' Shield in 2012? Well, a good number of the players on that team went out the door this year. Ramiro Corrales, Justin Morrow, Rafael Baca, Marvin Chavez, and Steven Beitashour are all now gone from the Quakes, leaving Chris Wondolowski, the "Bash Brothers" (high fouling forwards Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordan), and a smattering of others still on the roster.
Key Redeeming Factor: None. The Earthquakes are dead to me as long as they employ Lenhart.
2013 Record: 13-12-9 (7th place in the Western Conference)
Key Additions: "Uruguay" and "Vancouver Whitecaps" do not mash together quite as nicely as "Argen-timbers" or any of the other nicknames that have sprung up around these parts, but still the Whitecaps have pressed forward in finding a South American country of their own to mine for talent. As such the Whitecaps brought in a pair of diminutive Uruguayan attackers: Sebastian Fernandez and Nicolas Mezquida. Both have looked like tricky, possession-focused players in the preseason and could bring some needed creativity to the Vancouver attack.
Key Losses: Camilo Sanvezzo and all 22 of his goals from 2013. The loss of Lee Young-Pyo is the only other departure that even remotely approaches the importance of Camilo's brazen denial that he was still under contract and the Whitecaps' surprising capitulation. Timbers fans will remember Lee for his assist on this bit of absurdity, but beyond that he was a skilled pro and as important a part of the Vancouver defense as the similarly aged Jay Demerit.
Key Things to Mock: See "Key Losses" above.
Key Redeeming Factor: Former Timbers U-23 player, and denied Timbers homegrown signing, Erik Hurtado looks to be on the verge of a breakout year with the Whitecaps after a number of exciting performances so far this preseason, including scoring this beauty of a volley against the Seattle Sounders. The powerful wide-forward has looked good to make an impact this year despite a stable of young attacking talent in Vancouver that includes Darren Mattocks, Omar Salgado, and Mamadou Diouf.
2013/14 Record: 6-7-9 (10th place of 12 in the Red Stripe Premier League)
Portmore, a fixture in the top flight of the Jamaican Premier League, just wrapped up a difficult season, landing just one point outside the relegation zone. Unfortunately for Portmore, the team immediately below them still has one final game to play and their fate is entirely out of their own hands.
It is difficult to find much info on the Red Stripe Premier League, but it looks like the 2013/14 season was a frustrating one for Portmore. Despite having the 4th best defense in the league, Portmore only outscored two other teams, both of which will have an opportunity to pass them up this weekend.
Their struggles were typified in the final game of the season where, with a win, Portmore could have secured their spot in the league for next year. Playing against second place Waterhouse, Portmore out-shot their opponents 16-10 but could not find the back of the net and ultimately lost 1-0.