After waiting for four long and cold months, and then waiting for an additional two snowy and cold days, we can all finally say: it’s Timbers matchday!
The Portland Timbers open their 2023 campaign at home against Western Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City, in a match that now closes out round one of the MLS regular season after a two-day weather delay.
Storylines so far
When we last left the Timbers, their season ended with a thud as they were eliminated from making the postseason on the final day of the 2022 regular season. A 3-1 loss in Utah doomed Portland to watch the playoffs from home for the first time since 2016.
An offseason of gloom later, this Timbers team remains largely unchanged — except for the marquee addition of Brazilian attacking midfielder Evander. Tonight will be his MLS debut for the Timbers, and the expectations put on his shoulders to carry the burden of the offense are already present.
As for the rest of the Timbers team, much faith has been put on them to develop and return to the form that led them to the MLS Cup final two years ago. Eyes will be on the young Colombian duo of Santiago Moreno and Juan Mosquera to take a step this year, along with central defender Zac McGraw who is in line to start with Bill Tuiloma traded to Charlotte.
Across the pitch from the Timbers, they face a Sporting Kansas City side that is also looking to flip the script after missing the postseason last year. Led by breakout forward Willy Agada, Sporting ended last season on a tear despite missing out on the playoffs. They will come to Portland wanting to avenge not just that failure, but also the last time they were in the building, when Portland bullied them en route to a historic 7-2 victory.
Will tonight be a step towards Portland putting 2022 behind them? Or will it be a worrying sign that we are in for yet another slow start to the year? We will find out soon, as the Portland Timbers 2023 MLS season finally gets underway.
Alex whipped up a deep-dive into the 2022 offseason and what the expectations are for the Timbers in 2023.
Sam pulled together a match preview on what to expect from tonight’s kickoff of the season.
How to watch
Location: Providence Park | Portland, OR
Time: 7 p.m. PT