Earlier this week we found out just who would be sticking around from 2016 for the Portland Timbers and it seems like any moment now the Timbers could make their first moves as they prepare for next year. Still, with only 16 confirmed names on the Timbers roster for 2017, there is plenty still to do and plenty of holes to fill.
To help us figure out what the Timbers need the most as they build their roster for 2017, let’s take a look at the side’s depth chart from top to bottom and see what needs addressing.
- Jake Gleeson
The Timbers will need to add two more keepers to their roster before the start of the season as bring three deep at the position is just a fact of life in MLS. What makes finding a solid back up for Gleeson even more urgent, however, is the fact that the Timbers’ starter could still face a suspension for his DUII arrest back in October. With plenty of keepers still available in the coming weeks through trade, re-entry drafts, the SuperDraft, and any number of other mechanisms, the Timbers should not have trouble bringing in a No. 2 and 3 for this particular spot, it just remains to be seen if they can find the net Jake Gleeson to wait patiently in the wings for his own opportunity to step up.
- Liam Ridgewell
- Steven Taylor
- Gbenga Arokoyo
This is one of the Timbers’ stated spots of need going into the offseason with Caleb Porter and Gavin Wilkinson both telling reporters that the team would be looking to add a starting center back to the roster in the offseason. And with the sparse list above that seems perfectly reasonable. Taylor, while he has the pedigree and still could adjust to the league and the Timbers’ style of play, was a dud in his first season with the Timbers and could still be gone before the 2017 season rolls around, while Arokoyo remains a mystery after playing a paltry 15 minutes in his time with the Timbers due to injury.
Still, the Timbers are in negotiations to bring back the versatile pairing of Taylor Peay and Amobi Okugo, both of whom are potential depth pieces at center back. If both return to the side, the Timbers are one strong move and perhaps a young prospect away — T2 center back Rennico Clarke has previously been mentioned as a first team possibility — from having a full stable of central defenders.
- Vytas Andriuskevicius
- Marco Farfan
By the end of 2016, Vytas had come in and made the left back position his, allowing the Timbers to purge the roster of their several sadly failed attempts at filling the position previous to his arrival. Almost as importantly, the Timbers have exciting prospect Marco Farfan on the roster, ready to compete for his spot on the depth chart and versatile defender Zarek Valentin on hand to step in if need be. The Timbers could look for more depth here, but they certainly have more pressing issues elsewhere.
- Alvas Powell
- Zarek Valentin
For the Timbers, the only problem with right back is that their No. 2 on the depth chart is also potentially the No. 2 at left back and in the event of multiple injuries even Valentin just can’t be everywhere at once. To that end, bringing back Peay is important for the Timbers as he gives the side notably more depth across the back line. If the Timbers were to look for a youngster to fill out the position, USMNT U-19 and University of Virginia right back Terrell Lowe qualifies as a homegrown player, although his performances with T2 over the summer give the impression that he still has some developing to do.
- Diego Chara
- Ben Zemanski
If the Timbers are going to be running out two holding midfielders again in 2017 then this just will not do. Zemanski is coming back from a long injury layoff and even if Chara doesn’t miss a game due to injury he will miss one or two due to suspension, so the Timbers will need some depth here. Bringing in rumored signing David Guzman of Costa Rica’s Saprissa would be a big move in terms of solidifying the center of the pitch for the Timbers, but even if the Timbers get their man there, they will need to bring in at least one more depth piece. If he re-signs with the Timbers, Okugo could add depth at the position, but the Timbers could just as easily look elsewhere.
- Darren Mattocks
It looks lonely out here on the left wing, but when he was on the field Mattocks proved himself to be a capable player. However, he was off the field as much as he was on it, so it should come as no surprise that the Timbers are looking for not one, but two starting quality wingers for the side per Porter. Also potentially filling out the depth chart out here is Jack Barmby who is still negotiating his return to the club for next season. If the Timbers do want to bring in some more youth from their academy, left winger Blake Bodily is reportedly taking a gap year before college to play for T2 and could be brought on board as a homegrown player.
- Darlington Nagbe
- Lucas Melano
How Nagbe will fit into the Timbers of 2017 remains something of a mystery as the Timbers are, like we said above, looking to bring in a pair of starting wingers for next season. Still, he is decidedly the Timbers best wide midfielder currently and until that changes we will just go ahead and list him right there. In the mean time, we still have Lucas Melano on the roster, but that seems unlikely to be the case in early March, leaving the Timbers again in need of depth on the wing. This time, however, we do have one somewhat likely prospect to come on board: T2 midfielder and forward Victor Arboleda. The 19-year-old Colombian speedster has been linked with a move to the first team for several months and made his first team debut during a short term loan for the Timbers’ home match against Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions League.
- Diego Valeri
There is only one Diego Valeri and the depth chart behind him is always tricky. As the Timbers saw in 2014 with Gaston Fernandez, a high quality back up to your playmaker can be invaluable in keeping the attack flowing, but with the team already spending so much on a mercurial player like Nagbe it could be hard to justify bringing a more specialized someone in for a spot that he could already cover. Additionally, if Barmby makes his return, the young Englishman could make a play for time in the center of the park as his creative streak has proven to be among his most impressive assets so far.
- Fanendo Adi
- Jack McInerney
If Fanendo Adi stays in Portland for the 2017 season then the Portland Timbers will be in good shape at forward. McInerney, while controversial, is at least as good as the average backup in MLS, and when on a tear he is among the best. And, if the Timbers can bring in someone to make the left wing their own, Mattocks could also be an asset to use up top, bringing a decidedly different dimension to the side from either of the Timbers’ current options. Finally, if the Timbers were to fill out the position with a young prospect, they could do worse than academy product Foster Langsdorf. A scrappy, energetic forward with two-time national champions Stanford, Langsdorf has lead the line for the Cardinal this year, scoring a team-high fifteen goals in 23 games.
Where do you think the Timbers need to shore up before the season begins? Is there anywhere we missed? Let us know in the comments.