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State of the Roster: The Portland Timbers After The Superdraft

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After adding four more players to the organization over the course of the first two rounds of the 2015 MLS Superdraft, the Portland Timbers are starting to resemble a full team. Sure, T2 may be a long way from complete, but let's take a look at the Timbers' current roster and how those 29 players might fit into the MLS and USL sides.


Starter: Adam Kwarasey

Bench: Andrew Weber

T2: Jake Gleeson

It appears that the keeper position is pretty well settled for both the Timbers and Timbers 2. While T2 needs at least one full-time keeper on their roster, potentially Justin Luthy from the Timbers' practice squad last season, the first team does not look likely to make any changes before the season begins.


Starters: Liam Ridgewell, Nat Borchers

Bench: Norberto Paparatto

T2: Taylor Peay, Nick Besler

While their top three are fairly settled, the Timbers' centerback depth is a big question mark. Peay could still prove to be first-team material and Besler is well thought of coming into the team, but neither particularly inspires confidence should they be required to step in during on of the Timbers' famous deluge of injuries that always seem to hit their centerbacks the hardest.

Moreover, even if both youngsters are loaned to T2, the USL side will still need several signings to round out its roster. Former homegrown player Brian Gallego has been rumored be one of those players yet to sign with the team and Chris Rifer tweeted out  a rumor during yesterday's Superdraft that the Timbers could be signing a young centerback.

Left Back

Starter: Jorge Villafana

Bench: Jeanderson

T2: Andy Thoma

Jeanderson and Thoma could easily interchange here with the new draftee being touted as MLS ready and the Brasilian being more or less unknown. Villafana, meanwhile, looks like a lock at starter.

Again, T2 will be in need of some depth here.

Right Back

Starter: Alvas Powell

Bench: Jack Jewsbury

T2: Taylor Peay

At this point right back might be the Timbers' shallowest spot. While Alvas Powell showed at the end of 2014 that he could be a game-changing right back, at the start of the season he was a mess and the Timbers will need to be wary of any regression. His depth, Jewsbury and Peay, are both converted fullbacks at best.

Jewsbury's experience may make him a serviceable player no matter what position he steps into, but it remains to be seen whether he has lost a step again this year. Peay has the opposite problem in that he has very little experience at right back despite having all the physical tools for the job.

Moreover, if Peay plays at centerback for T2 there is nobody with the club already who would be expected to line up at right back for the USL side.

Holding Midfielders

Starters: Will Johnson, Diego Chara

Bench: Ben Zemanski, Jack Jewsbury

T2: Nick Besler, Steven Evans, George Fochive

While some have called for a different look in the center of the park for the Timbers, Johnson and Chara remain the team's two best players at this spot and, when fully healthy, it will be difficult to keep either off the pitch.

Zemanski has shown that he is more than capable of stepping in and providing a more defensive look while still playing the box to box role, but Besler could take that shift in responsibilities a step further if he makes his way into the first team, providing the Timbers' with their first true defensive midfielder since Jewsbury was moved to right back.

At the T2 level this is one spot that looks fairly well stocked, so long as the Timbers do not decide to convert Besler into a centerback. With Fochive showing promise on his loans last season and Evans the first player to sign on directly to T2, the Timbers have relatively little to worry about here.

Attacking Midfielders

Starters: Rodney Wallace, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe

Bench: Gaston Fernandez, Dairon Asprilla

T2: Michael Nanchoff, Schillo Tshuma, Kharlton Belmar, Christian Volesky

The Timbers' attacking midfielders each have their own strengths, but taken as a group they provide a free flowing attack that can cause mismatches all over the pitch when playing well. The trio of Wallace, Valeri, and Nagbe is still the ideal, but Aspilla looks to have the potential to crack the XI this season if he can adjust to the team and the league.

Beyond the starters and Fernandez, however, the attack has little about it that inspires confidence for the immediate future. Asprilla is still an unknown to us, while the holdovers from last season, Nanchoff and Tshuma, have yet to prove themselves on a first team level. Nanchoff is entering his fifth season in MLS this year and has yet to make his mark, playing four games with the Timbers since joining the team in 2013. He provides an unquestioned spark going forward, but his defensive efforts have been questionable. Tshuma, entering his second year in MLS and his second with the Timbers, has shown flashes of quality while out on loan, but has yet to crack an MLS lineup.

The two newest additions, versatile attackers Belmar and Volesky, are not yet under contract with the league and seem likely to end up signing directly with T2.  A pair of players with bountiful physical skills but questionable technique, the pair could be molded to play just about anywhere in the attack. T2 will need several more signings in these attacking positions, but they have plenty of flexibility in what they will be looking for here.


Starter: Fanendo Adi

Bench: Maximiliano Urruti, Gaston Fernandez

T2: Christian Volesky, Kharlton Belmar

The one-two punch of Adi and Urruti looked very good in the second half of 2014 and, if they can resume that same level of play, should be very effective. Fernandez has proven to be an effective third striker for the Timbers, but with his regular play in the midfield will not always be available for the team, particularly at the start of the year when he will be filling in the No. 10 spot for Valeri.

An out and out third striker would certainly be helpful for the Timbers to have. A proven goalscorer in MLS who is capable of coming in and finding the net whether as a starter or a substitute.

For T2, the same pair of untested draftees could just as easily play at forward as they could slot into one of the attacking midfield roles. Volesky seems like the more likely of the pair to play in a pure forward role, while Belmar seems to gravitate more to an outside midfield role. Either way, this is another area where T2 will need reinforcements.