Over on the league website, MLS has a year long breakdown of the big dates that fans should be looking out for. Sure, we have covered the important bits of the preseason from a Portland Timbers' perspective, but let's check it out just to see if there is anything that we might have missed and what we should be interested in going forward.
The Combine, the schedule release, the SuperDraft, the Desert Friendlies, the Simple Invitational: we got 'em. What we glossed over was the 2016 USMNT January camp.
Usually one of the US's longer camps where fringe players and guys generally on the outside looking in get a call-up (remember Michael Harrington's brief flirtation with the USMNT?), this could certainly see Darlington Nagbe called back into the fold if only for some more time in the national team setup. And maybe we will see recently-departed Jorge Villafana get his first call up to the senior side after making an immediate impact for his new club, Santos Laguna, by scoring a goal in their first game of the new year, a 4-2 win over Monterrey.
If the Timbers do lose Nagbe, it will likely be for the first three weeks of the preseason until the USMNT plays Canada in a friendly on February 5th.
After the start of the MLS season, things get pretty streamlined with 2015-16 CONCACAF dates -- the edition to which the Timbers were not invited -- being the big thing for most teams to keep an eye on here. The one thing that does stand out from a Timbers perspective at this time of the year is the late March World Cup Qualifiers that could see players like Darlington Nagbe, Alvas Powell, and Rodney Wallace called up. Even Adam Kwarasey and Fanendo Adi are in danger of leaving the team during that window.
According to the MLS article, just like in the spring there is not much to keep an eye on in the summer beyond the usual international dates. Of course, there will be plenty more of those this year for the likes of the USMNT with the team's inclusion in the Copa América "Centenario" tournament. MLS has said that it will be taking a two week break for the Copa América this year, and we should see that reflected in the schedules when they are released later this week.
There a few things beyond the international action to keep an eye on during the summer: included in the article is the MLS All-Star Game. Whether you love it, hate it, or are deeply apathetic about it, the All-Star Game stands a good chance of grabbing at least one Timbers player this year after snubbing everyone on the team that went on to, you know, win the MLS Cup in 2015.
Not included in the MLS piece is the US Open Cup, which will also start up for the Timbers sometime during the summer, likely in mid-July if last year's edition is any indication.
Finally, also not included in the MLS article, is the 2016-17 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League. The 2015-16 version kicked off in August last year and there is no reason to doubt that this year's CCL will not do the same. With plenty of teams yet to qualify from around the region, the Timbers do not yet know who they will be playing, but keep your fingers crossed for somewhere a little more accessible than Guayana this time around.
With the US Open Cup and CCL underway and the usual scramble for playoff spots coming down to the wire, the fall will certainly be a busy time for the Timbers. Once again, there is little we didn't already know here and once again the only thing that sticks out to keep an eye on is the international dates that crop up, particularly with the "Hex" section of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying underway.