The Jack McInerney Era in Portland is over.
At long last, the Portland Timbers have parted ways with McInerney, whose fate appeared sealed after the Timbers drafted Jeremy Ebobisse and, as preseason progressed, most of the minutes behind Fanendo Adi went to Darren Mattocks.
The Timbers waived McInerney on the final day to do so, which, in light of the timing of the move, indicates the Timbers used the annual amnesty provision to wipe McInerney’s contract off the salary cap. As a result, the Timbers will still be responsible for paying the amount of McInerney’s buyout, but he will not count against the Timbers’ salary budget.
Jack Mac scored five MLS goals for the Timbers in 2016, but — after scoring three goals in his first five appearances — only logged two in his final 19, and did not score in MLS play after July 13. While McInerney met expectations early in the season, his extended drought hurt the Timbers down the stretch and left Portland without a reliable goalscoring threat on the bench.
The departure of McInerney paves the way for the Timbers to have enough cap space to sign the starting-quality centerback they’ve been after since Gbenga Arokoyo ruptured his Achilles' tendon in training camp. With McInerney hard pressed to find a role within the team and his 2016 salary around $270,000, the need for the cap space that McInerney occupied and the availability of the amnesty clause in the offseason pushed the Timbers into moving McInerney now rather than waiting to see if the trade market developed over the course of the season.
With McInerney out of the picture the Timbers’ roster sits at 25 players, with four roster spots remaining open. Although one of those spots will likely be filled by the anticipated starting centerback, the Timbers retain some flexibility that leaves open the possibility of midseason transactions if, for example, a T2 player shows he is ready to make the leap to the first team.