This offseason marks the second time that players in Major League Soccer have had free agency when they are out of contract and the pool of free agent players has grown since 2015 as more fulfill the requirements of the system.
That’s right. Not just any old out of contract player in MLS can go where he pleases (Jermaine Jones, we are looking at you); in order to qualify for free agency under the current collective bargaining agreement, a player must be 28 years old and have played eight seasons in the league.
The Portland Timbers hit the free agent market last season, bringing in veteran midfielder Ned Grabavoy as a depth piece in the center of the pitch and this year could see the side once again turn to free agency to fill out their roster. And with 37 players eligible, up from 27 last offseason, there are options to be had (minus a few retirements, of course).
There are plenty of well known names in free agency this year that could potentially help the Timbers, but with the team’s stated need for a starting caliber center back, winger, and holding midfielder, there are some obvious places to look first. With that in mind, here are three players that the Timbers might want to take a look at:
Once upon a time, in the long, long ago before the Timbers joined Major League Soccer, DeMarcus Beasley roamed free on the left, not held back by defensive responsibilities; it was the time of Beasley in the midfield and it was glorious. Timbers fans have been bemoaning the loss of Rodney Wallace all season as the side have struggled to find the defensive support out wide that he brought in 2015, so why not take a converted fullback and de-convert them? Beasley knows how to defend, still has gas left in the tank, and still has the ability to make players look a fool as Alvas Powell will remember all too vividly from his match ups against Beasley last season.
If you can’t have Jack Jewsbury as your wily veteran in the center of the park, you might as well have the next best thing. Larentowicz has been around the league for a while and has been a consistent contributor for every team that he has been a part of. Whether slotting in to the back line or patrolling the center of the pitch, Larentowicz brings a smart, physical presence to the game — and an aerial game that the Timbers have occasionally lacked.
Sure, the Timbers already have a speedy player who could be a winger or could be a forward in Darren Mattocks, but while Mattocks is quick, Oduro is game-breakingly fast. While he has never quite had the skills to be the elite player that his managers would have liked, Oduro has been a consistent threat wherever he goes, notching goals and assists with regularity. Sure, he is 31 now and sure to lose a step sometime, but after another solid year with the Montreal Impact in 2016, Oduro could certainly contribute in the Rose City.
You can find the full list of free agents for the 2017 season right here. Check it out and let us know in the comments if there is anyone you think the Timbers should be after.