The Portland Timbers announced that the club has signed goalkeepers Aljaz Ivacic and David Bingham through the 2023 season. Ivacic’s deal includes a club option for 2024. Ivacic was out of contract following the 2021 season and has been in negotiations with the Timbers. Bingham, while not on the roster, had been training with the team for the latter half of the 2021 season. He now officially joins the goalkeeper pool for the Portland Timbers.
Ivacic was originally signed by the Timbers prior to the 2019 regular season. The Slovenian keeper has made seven appearances for the Timbers, six of which were starts. He was most recently called into action in 2021 after Steve Clark suffered a thigh strain in August. Ivacic started two games during that stretch, which included a 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake and the infamous 2-6 loss to the Seattle Sounders.
Bingham is a veteran of MLS, plying his trade primarily with the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy in seasons past. Bingham spent the first seven seasons of his ten-year MLS career with the Earthquakes from 2011-2017, his shot-stopping abilities standing out. He then moved down I-5 to join rivals LA Galaxy from 2018-2020. While without a club for the 2021 season, Bingham was brought into the Timbers camp in the summer, where he trained and integrated himself into the squad.
With the departure of starter Steve Clark, the door is now wide open for a new face to step into the role of starting goalkeeper for the Portland Timbers. Ivacic, Bingham, Jeff Attinella, and homegrown player Hunter Sulte now make up the goalkeeper pool. Attinella’s future with the Timbers is uncertain- at 33 years-old and after coming off of a major injury that ended his 2021 season prematurely, it is question mark as to whether he stays with the Timbers organization. Presuming the youngster Sulte will use the 2022 season to continue to develop, that now leaves likely one of Ivacic or Bingham as the Timbers’ next No. 1.
It is expected that Ivacic and Bingham will now compete in the preseason for the starting job. Both present as intriguing options between the sticks for the Timbers.
Ivacic has spent the most time with the Timbers organization and is the most familiar to the coaching staff and has worked the most with Timbers goalkeeping coach Memo Valencia. At just 28 years old, he is entering what should be his prime years and appears to be in a position to step into the starting role.
However, in his limited time on the field, Ivacic has shown he has more to prove. The keeper demonstrated a propensity for making some spectacular saves, but he also has made some head-scratching decisions on his line and allowed shots that some might have expected him to save. The aforementioned six-goal drubbing by Seattle comes to mind as a particularly low point for Ivacic’s Timbers tenure thus far. None of that is to say he cannot improve and develop going into 2022.
Bingham on the other hand brings veteran savvy. He has spent a considerable amount of time in the league and knows MLS well. What he lacks in time with the Timbers organization he makes up for in experience. He especially impressed during his stint with the San Jose Earthquakes, when he won the starting job in 2015 and held it for the following three seasons. While he is less known to the Timbers organization, he does bring a wealth of games in the league (181 appearances, to be exact) — something that Ivacic does not have.
Regardless of whoever shows well over the next two months, the Timbers’ plan for the era after the Steve Clark era is clear. One of Ivacic or Bingham will be stepping up in between the posts come the end of February.