Well, we went into January with hopes, praying for clarity and progress in the Portland Timbers’ offseason. And what we got instead were … rumors about aging Colombian forwards, draft picks traded away, and an already bad CBA negotiation that has somehow become so much worse.
Happy 2021, everybody.
While we didn’t get clarity or our free agent signing or defender from Cameroon (still holding out hope for signing from the Phoenix suburbs), we did indeed get Felipe Mora returning to Portland on a permanent basis. So with that sterling .333 batting average, the Three Bold Predictions are boldly back for the new month.
Without further ado, here are three
way too confident predictions about the Portland Timbers that are definitely going to happen in February:
The Timbers will sign a left back
I mean, one of these has to hit at some point, right?
Since last month, Portland has had more players depart than come in. Yes, Mora and Larrys Mabiala have been re-signed, but that backline in particular is looking frightfully thin. And even with the seemingly imminent signing of Josecarlos Van Rankin, the only left back Portland has on the roster at time of publishing is still new signing Claudio Bravo, who I’m pretty sure still hasn’t even set foot in Portland yet.
The Timbers need left back depth, and this is the month that they’re going to go out and get it. In an ideal world, it will be a veteran and experienced player that can either back up Bravo if he wins the starting job, or starts themselves as Bravo acclimates to playing in MLS. Portland traded this away when they dealt Jorge Villafana to the Galaxy, so it would be very helpful (and make a lot of sense) to bring someone in at that position who can put in a solid shift and be a reliable backup and spot starter.
What type of player can we expect? We can look at the right side of the defense as a model. Van Rankin will likely be a more modern traditional fullback, one who prioritizes staying wide, sending in crosses, and defending the opposition’s wide players. Pablo Bonilla will be more of the energetic spark plug who buzzes all over the right side, occasionally popping up in the central channel and providing “totally was a pass definitely wasn’t a shot” assists like this:
Extrapolating that to the left, Portland already has its dynamic left back in Bravo. So we can guess that this mystery man will be a more disciplined and systematic player, who prioritizes interplay and being present on the left side of the defense. Whether it’s by trade or a free agent, Portland is going to get their man to back up the other man this month.
Merritt Paulson is going to tweet something that makes everyone mad
This feels like hedging a bet, but let me explain. There are so many things that the owner of the Timbers and Thorns can choose to tweet about this month in particular. Beyond just normal mundane life things, there is a smorgasbord of soccer things that Paulson could send out into the Twitter-sphere to rile up the RCTID faithful.
The Timbers don’t make a signing that you think they should have? Merritt will go the TL to explain the team’s justification. Portland makes a signing that you think they shouldn’t have? He can put up 280 characters justifying that too. C.I. DeMann’s continued attempts to do his job better than him rile him up? Oh he’ll tweet about that. Labor negotiations reach an ignominious end, or we get a lockout? Heck, someone will most likely be tweeting something at him about that soon.
The point is, there are too many important dates and events and benchmarks this month for Paulson to not comment on any of them. And if there’s one thing that can be relied upon more than Merritt adding to the discourse, it’s that whatever he puts into it is going to make someone out there upset. More than any other month in the offseason thus far, there is a proverbial minefield of takes out there that can be tweeted out. And at least one of them is going to blow up.
Thanks for using this picture. My hair looks very very good. And lush. And actually there.— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) January 21, 2021
The Timbers will be set to go back to Costa Rica (for the CONCACAF Champions League)
The draw for the Soctiabank Concacaf Champions League knockout rounds is set for February 10th. The Timbers have earned their place in this year’s edition by being the most BACK team at the MLS is Back Tournament last summer (they won it), and so now they have earned the right to be play a team in another country ... during a pandemic ... when the MLS season has just barely started (or may not even have started yet).
Reservations aside, there’s some intrigue around who they might be drawn to play. Will it be a tough Mexican side like Club Leon? Will it be their nemesis from 2014, CD Olimpia? Will it be a team from a country they have yet to visit,
Nah, it will be Deportivo Saprissa.
You ask like it's not automatically Saprissa.— ↙️↙️↙️ (@ExiledFromYoop) January 28, 2021
Leave aside the fact they’re a familiar face from when Portland was last in the tournament, and leave aside the fact that Portland has a history with acquiring/returning players to the Costa Rican side over recent years. Beyond those points, it’s just the universe correcting itself and starting to heal.
The Timbers have gone to Costa Rica for preseason prior to both the 2019 and 2020 preseason. It’s become a Giovanni Savarese staple at this point, and it has facilitated some real bonding and team unity in the early days of a new season. And you know that as soon as they stepped off the plane to come back home in 2020 they were already planning the 2021 edition, unaware of how the world would be turned upside down.
Presumably with no option to schedule their regular preseason trip this time around, having to travel there for the SCCL is the next best thing. And it will be the fulfillment of a wish that had to be deferred, and one that will signal that the world is starting to become normal once again. The Portland Timbers and Costa Rica — it just feels destined to happen. So get ready for David Guzman to score a goal and get a red card against his former team all in the same game, baby.
Pura vida indeed.
So there they are. Three bold things that will 100% definitely happen in the next four weeks. Probably. Maybe. 2021 has been a trip so far, so who the heck knows? Have any other bold thoughts? Let me hear ‘em below.