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The Portland Timbers Depth Chart: Who Goes Where?

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Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers have added a number of new faces over the last few days, bringing in forward Jack McInenery, defender Zarek Valentin, and midfielder Ned Grabavoy ahead of the yesterday's SuperDraft, then grabbing a pair of young forwards in Ben Polk and Neco Brett with their first and second round picks. With all these new faces around, and several more potential players to be added through the later rounds of the SuperDraft, what is the Timbers' depth chart looking like?

So far there have not been any blockbuster deals; rather, the Timbers have opted for the solid over the spectacular, bringing in depth players throughout the lineup but no big gambles or unknowns. Assuming the Timbers are going to stick with the 4-3-3 that carried the team through to their win in the MLS Cup Final, let's take a look at just how the side might line up in 2016.

*Not yet signed.


  1. Adam Kwarasey
  2. Jake Gleeson
  1. Liam Ridgewell
  2. Nat Borchers
  3. Jermaine Taylor*
  4. Zarek Valentin
  5. Anthony Manning
  6. Taylor Peay
Left Fullback
  1. Chris Klute
  2. Zarek Valentin
  3. Jermaine Taylor*
  4. Andrew Thoma
Right Fullback
  1. Alvas Powell
  2. Zarek Valentin
  3. Taylor Peay

Looking over the Timbers' defensive options it looks like the Timbers have got things fairly well sorted out with one notable exception: the Timbers need a third keeper. While the team could grab another young keeper from the 3rd and 4th rounds of the draft, it seems just as likely that the Timbers could look to bring in another Andrew Weber type veteran who can provide a solid back up to ride the bench behind Adam Kwarasey, while Jake Gleeson continues to get minutes with T2.

As far as the order goes here, the big questions all revolve around Zarek Valentin: given his versatility and pedigree, will the Timbers' new defender be able to compete for a starting spot on the back line and, if he can, which spot is it going to be? Chris Klute at left back is the least settled of any of Valentin's competition, but with his ability to payer left back, right back, or center back, and impressive preseason could see Valentin push for minutes in any of those spots.


Holding Midfield
  1. Diego Chara
  2. Ben Zemanski
  3. Jack Jewsbury
  4. George Fochive
  5. Nick Besler
Center Midfield
  1. Darlington Nagbe
  2. Ned Grabavoy
Attacking Midfield
  1. Diego Valeri
  2. Darlington Nagbe
  3. Ned Grabavoy

The Timbers will go into this season looking to play a 4-3-3 with a single holding midfielder, Caleb Porter told the press during a conference call on Wednesday, continuing with the set up that the team used for most of their run through the MLS Cup playoffs. However, Porter also mooted the possibility that, if necessary, the Timbers could still run the two holding midfielder system that was their staple from 2013 until late last year.

If all that were not true, the remarkably short list at the "center midfielder" spot might be alarming. As it stands, however, the position of the shuttler in the center of the pitch would almost certainly be switched over to a second holding midfielder if Nagbe and Grabavoy were both not available. Rather than forcing that specific -- and not particularly common -- skill set on a player less able to hold the ball and get it down the pitch safely, the Timbers would certainly be more comfortable switching over to their old standby instead.


Left Winger
  1. Lucas Melano
  2. Diego Valeri
  3. Darlington Nagbe
  4. Ned Grabavoy
  5. Ben Polk
  6. Neco Brett*
Right Winger
  1. Lucas Melano
  2. Dairon Asprilla
  3. Darlington Nagbe
  4. Diego Valeri
  5. Ned Grabavoy
  6. Ben Polk
Center Forward
  1. Fanendo Adi
  2. Jack McInerney
  3. Michael Seaton
  4. Ben Polk
  5. Neco Brett*

While the midfield lists were not too worrying despite being short, these lists are worrying when they are too long. Going off the end of last season, Lucas Melano is the first choice on either wing when filling out the starting XI for the Timbers and Dairon Asprilla is not far behind him on the right. The pair of young players are just fine, but behind them are a trio that the Timbers could deploy out wide, but really should not want to.

Nagbe and Valeri, both of whom can be quite effective out wide in the ideal situation, just so happen to be two of the league's best players in the center of the pitch. Grabavoy, although he is certainly behind that pair, is in a similar situation: according to Porter on Wednesday he is first and foremost a player that thrives in the center of the pitch. Porter did concede that he knows how to play on the wings as well, but he sounded less than enthusiastic about the prospect, mentioning that Nagbe or Valeri might end up out there, necessitating an appearance in the center of the pitch for Grabavoy.

Draftees Polk and Brett are both players who could potentially swing out wide and who have even been mentioned as players who could compete to fill the void left by the departure of Rodney Wallace by some pundits around the league. However, given Porter's recent comments on draft picks, and Gavin Wilkinson's confirmation that the Timbers are looking for a left winger, it seems unlikely that either is being looked at to make an immediate impact.


What do you think of this depth chart? What are the holes that the Timbers have left to fill? And how have they done with the progress they have made so far? Let us know in the comments.