The Portland Timbers have announced several re-signings of players today, bringing back Ben Zemanski, Nick Besler, and Andy Thoma for the 2016 season.
While the trio did not play a role in the team's MLS Cup winning 2015 season, Zemanski at least is expected by most to be back in the picture for a spot in the 18 next year and should play an important role in the CONCACAF Champions League. Besler and Thoma, both coming into their second year as professionals, will likely spend most of their time with T2 in the upcoming season, but both could compete for a spot in the 18.
Absent from the press release are Norberto Paparatto and Rodney Wallace, both of whom are out of contract. Paparatto had his option declined by the team and is reportedly still in negotiations with the Timbers, while Wallace's contract ran out after the 2015 season. Wallace is reportedly also still in negotiations with the team.
The move leaves the Timbers with 21 players currently under contract, including probable departee Will Johnson. The maximum MLS roster size is currently 28 players.
Zemanski, Besler, and Thoma join Jake Gleeson and Jack Jewsbury as the Timbers players to have signed new contracts this offseason.
The Timbers' press release:
TIMBERS RE-SIGN MIDFIELDERS BEN ZEMANSKI, NICK BESLER, DEFENDER ANDY THOMA
Trio to return to Portland for 2016 campaign
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that the team has re-signed midfielders Ben Zemanski and Nick Besler and defender Andy Thoma for the 2016 MLS season. Per league and club policy, terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Zemanski, 27, re-signs with the Timbers for the 2016 season after missing the 2015 campaign due to a torn ACL suffered in preseason. Zemanski has made 28 appearances (12 starts) in the last three seasons with the Timbers, registering one goal and two assists. Prior to joining the Timbers, Zemanski spent three years with Chivas USA, tallying six assists in 72 matches (58 starts) from 2010 to 2012.
Besler, 22, spent the majority of his rookie campaign on loan with T2, the Timbers’ USL side. The Overland Park, Kan., native made 25 appearances (22 starts) for T2, logging 1,834 minutes of action after being the No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by the Timbers. In other competitions, Besler scored what would stand as the game-winning goal for T2 in a 4-3 win against English Premier League side Newcastle United in an international friendly on July 21at Providence Park.
Thoma, 22, made 26 appearance (25 starts) on loan with T2 during his rookie campaign in 2015, registering three assists. The Los Alamos, N.M., native logged the second-most minutes played (2,274) for T2 during the 2015 USL season. A second-round pick (No. 24 overall) in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by the Timbers, Thoma started 14 straight matches, playing 1,260 consecutive minutes, for T2 from June 14-Sept. 12.