It has been a while since the Portland Timbers 2 wrapped up their inaugural season; almost five months, in fact. Since then the team has changed head coaches, added a player, and... not much else, really.
Now we have just over two months to go until the start of the 2016 season for the Portland Timbers' USL side, so let's take a look at just what the T2 roster is looking like these days.
The Timbers' perennial fourth keeper is still under contract with T2, training with the Timbers for his third straight season. Despite having been around for a while now, Luthy is still only 24 and has shown in his performances with T2 that he can play at a high level. With Jake Gleeson looking likely to spend most of his time backing up Adam Kwarasey with the first team, expect to see even more out of Luthy this year.
Potential Signees: Wade Hamilton
T2 will need a second body at keeper for the season and Hamilton, the Timbers' 4th round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, could very well be that keeper. Of course, the Timbers are currently only carrying two keepers on their first team roster as well and will need one more warm body there as well. If Hamilton does not sign with T2, a young Mexican keeper was spotted training with the first team back in January and was confirmed as a potential signee for T2 by Caleb Porter.
Potential Loanees: Taylor Peay, Andrew Thoma
First teamers Peay and Thoma are going to get the bulk of the minutes at fullback for T2, but it seems likely that both will see some time on the first team bench or even in the XI at times this year, so T2 are going to need to bring in some backups for the position. Sure, Brent Richards has played right back before, but a dedicated signing for the spot would certainly be a boon to the side.
Caleb Porter has mentioned over and over again how impressed the team has been with Clarke and there is no reason to think that he will be anything other than a regular starter for T2 and a potential future signee for the first team. However, all that is going to have to wait until he finishes recovering from the torn ACL that sidelined him in August of last year.
Potential Loanees: Anthony Manning
Potential Signees: Trevor Morley
With Clarke almost certainly out for the start of the season, the Timbers will need to fill in the ranks at center back before the end of March. Manning is all but guaranteed to be joining the second team on loan for much of the season again and 3rd round draft pick Morley is looking like a good bet to sign with T2 after putting in some decent and improving performances with the first team in Tucson. Still, T2 will need to sign at least one more center back for the season.
Akinjide Idowu, Tim Payne
In Idowu and Payne, the Timbers have two well-regarded young international players who can play either in the defensive or box to box role in the midfield. Idowu, 19, is a Nigerian youth international and a U-17 World Cup winner who seems almost Diego Chara like in his ability to win the ball and get involved going forward with quick, simple passes. Payne, meanwhile, seems to be more in the mold of Ben Zemanski -- or 2010 Jack Jewsbury -- the sort of all-action midfielder who is equally at home breaking up plays or getting forward to launch a long-range shot on goal. Like Clarke, Payne is a player that Porter repeatedly tabbed last year as potentially being worth a look with the first team.
Potential Loanees: Nick Besler
Besler will almost certainly be spending the majority -- if not the entirety -- of his 2016 season on loan with T2 and competing with Idowu and Payne for minutes in the center of the pitch. This is one spot where T2 are unlikely to need reinforcements, particularly if they look to mirror the first team and play the single pivot midfield that Porter favored at the end of 2015.
Equally at home in the center of the pitch or on the wings, Casiple makes the CAM list by virtue of being the closest thing to it that T2 currently has. Good attacking midfielders are a rare commodity and Casiple certainly has the instincts and the potential for it, making regular runs in behind the forwards and looking to link up with quick passing combinations, but don't be surprised if the Timbers look to bring in a young international player to compete for this spot.
Brent Richards, Rundell Winchester
In Richards and Winchester, the Timbers have the old man of the team -- Richards is the current oldest player on the roster at 25 -- and a fully capped Trinidad and Tobago international. Both had problems with injuries last season as Richards continued his recovery and return from the knee injury that ended his time with the first team as a homegrown player at the start of 2013, while Winchester simply absorbed his fair share of knocks over the course of the season. Both players were at times electric on the wings for T2, but neither was able to put together a consistent string of performances, something that the team will be looking for this year.
Potential Signees: Neco Brett, Ben Polk
Of course, Brett and Polk, the Timbers' draft picks from the first two rounds of this year's SuperDraft, will likely be competing for these spots as well. Both players look like good possibilities to sign with the first team -- Polk already signed a contract with MLS before the SuperDraft -- and could find their way into the 18 on the strength of their preseason performances to date, but expect most of their minutes to come with T2 as they provide stiff competition for the incumbents.
The USL Rookie of the Year is back and hoping to show that he is more than just a speedster. While Belmar can run very, very fast, it is going to take more than that to compete at an MLS level. Right now the lone forward spot is Belmar's to lose, but if he does not show a more diverse skill set, like the ability to hold up the ball and get his teammates involved, then the pressure could be on.
Potential Loanees: Michael Seaton
Seaton got some minutes with T2 late last season after joining the Timbers from D.C. United, but he remains something of a mystery. In training Seaton's finishing, quickness, and instincts are impressive, but how he combines with the players around him remains to be seen. With Belmar and Seaton -- as well as Brett, Polk, Winchester, and Richards -- capable of leading the line, this does not seem like a priority for T2 other than getting the most out of the talent already on hand.