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Timbers Announce First Round of Changes from 2016 Roster; Trade for International Roster Slot

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Portland Timbers Godofredo Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

At long last the Portland Timbers on Monday announced their first wave of changes from the 2016 roster. Without further ado, those moves are:

Options Exercised: Zarek Valentin and Ben Zemanski.

Options Declined: Andy Thoma, Ben Polk, Nick Besler, Jermaine Taylor, Chris Konopka, Chris Klute, Wade Hamilton, Neco Brett, and Jack Barmby.

Players Out of Contract: Taylor Peay, Nat Borchers, and Amobi Okugo.

Although as it currently stands Barmby, Peay, and Okugo are not under contract for 2017, the Timbers remain in some degree of negotiations with all three at this point, having extended bona fide offers to Barmby and Peay and remaining in talks with Okugo.

In addition, the Timbers traded the 43rd pick in the SuperDraft (PTFC’s second pick in the second round that was acquired from TFC as part of the Will Johnson trade) to D.C. United in exchange for an international roster spot and Kennedy Igboananike. The Timbers, however, declined Igboananike’s contract option, which suggests Igboananike will not, in fact, be a Timber and his inclusion in the deal is likely a matter of D.C. United’s expansion draft maneuvering. In the end, therefore, it appears the deal is effectively a swap of the Timbers’ lowest second-round pick in exchange for an international roster spot.

As of right now, therefore, the Timbers have the following 16 players under contract for 2017: Fanendo Adi, Vytas, Gbenga Arokoyo, Diego Chara, Marco Farfan, Jake Gleeson, Darren Mattocks, Jack McInerney, Lucas Melano, Darlington Nagbe, Alvas Powell, Liam Ridgewell, Steven Taylor, Zarek Valentin, Diego Valeri, and Ben Zemanski.

That, of course, doesn’t mean all 16 of those players will be with the Timbers in 2017; some may yet be moved via transfer, loan, trade, or buyout. In particular, Lucas Melano, Jack McInerney, and Steven Taylor each have at least some notable degree of uncertainty surrounding their return.

But those who were hoping for a lot of turnover from 2016 certainly seem to be getting just that. The 2017 Timbers could have as many as 19 or as few as 13 players on the 28-man roster that were with the first team in 2016.

A few more bullets from the Timbers’ release:

  • As expected, it appears unlikely that Nat Borchers will return to the Timbers in a playing capacity. With Borchers out of contract, he will hit free agency. It seems doubtful, however, that he would sign with a team right away as he recovers from his ruptured achilles tendon suffered last summer. Although this news was far from unexpected, it nonetheless comes as a disappointment, as Borchers was a key catalyst for the Timbers’ 2015 MLS Cup run.
  • It appears the Timbers will be in the market for two new goalkeepers this offseason to backup Jake Gleeson. One of those newcomer goalkeepers will likely be the Timbers’ opening-day starter because of the possibility that Jake Gleeson will be suspended for at least the opener as a result of his offseason DUII arrest.
  • The only other modest surprise on the Timbers’ list is Neco Brett, who had a pretty successful run with T2 in his rookie season. At 24 years-old (and potentially still carrying international status), it appears the Timbers have decided Brett’s first-team roster spot is better devoted to other uses next season.

Here is the Timbers’ press release in full:


PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that the team has exercised the 2017 contract options on defender Zarek Valentin and midfielder Ben Zemanski, and has not exercised the 2017 contract options on Nick Besler, Neco Brett, Wade Hamilton, Chris Klute, Chris Konopka, Ben Polk, Jermaine Taylor and Andy Thoma. The Timbers also did not exercise the 2017 contract option for Jack Barmby, but the club has extended a bona fide offer for the upcoming season.

Players already under contract for the 2017 season include: Fanendo Adi, Gbenga Arokoyo, Diego Chara, Marco Farfan, Jake Gleeson, Jack McInerney, Darren Mattocks, Lucas Melano, Darlington Nagbe, Alvas Powell, Liam Ridgewell, Steven Taylor, Diego Valeri and Vytas.

Nat Borchers, Amobi Okugo and Taylor Peay are out of contract with the Timbers. The club remains in discussion with Okugo and has extended a bona fide offer to Peay, while Borchers is eligible for MLS free agency, which begins at the conclusion of the MLS Expansion Draft on Dec. 13. Dairon Asprilla is under contract with the Timbers for the 2017 season and remains on loan with Colombian club Millonarios F.C.

Midfielders Ned Grabavoy and Jack Jewsbury retired at the conclusion of the 2016 season.

Additionally, the Timbers have acquired a 2017 international slot (through Dec. 31, 2017) and the rights to forward Kennedy Igboananike from D.C. United in exchange for the 21st pick in the second round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Igboananike’s option for the 2017 MLS season was declined.