>Sunday Lunch: MLS Team Preview – Portland Timbers

Posted: March 13, 2011 in mls
Tags: , , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern

Last Year: N/A
Key Losses: N/A
Key Additions: Troy Perkins, Eric Brunner, Darlington Nagbe, Sal Zizzo, Peter Lowry, Jack Jewsbury, Jeremy Hall, Rodney Wallace, Steve Purdy, Kenny Cooper
Projected Starting XI: The Timbers will look to make the best use of their available players by playing a straight 4-4-2. Up top Kenny Cooper should be an automatic starter next to 2010 Herman Trophy winner Darlington Nagbe. John Spencer should look to make his left side the same as the 2008 Maryland side with Jeremy Hall playing left mid and Rodney Wallace at left back. The combination of those two will be key to the Timers success this year. In the middle, Peter Lowry should accompany the newly acquired team captain Jack Jewsbury. Sal Zizzo looks to be the front-runner at right mid. The rest of the backline should be made up by David Horst, Eric Brunner (two reserves on top 5 MLS teams last year), and converted center back Steve Purdy. In goal, Troy Perkins looks to be the clear starter.

Kenny Cooper          Darlington Nagbe
Jeremy Hall          Peter Lowry          Jack Jewsbury          Sal Zizzo
Rodney Wallace          David Horst          Eric Brunner          Steve Purdy
Troy Perkins

Prognosis: This team definitely has offensive firepower with Cooper and Nagbe, but there are many questions to be addressed in the midfield and defense. When I first saw their completed roster, I noticed how many players they have that are question marks. Purdy, Horst, Brunner, Lowry, Hall, and Zizzo are all unproven players at this level. This being said, all of those players have great potential to be good. Portland should win a few games just based on Kenny Cooper outscoring the other team, but I think the Timbers will ultimately struggle to win consistently and end up around 12th-15th place.
The Intern’s Take: Watching the recent Portland-Seattle game in the Cascadia Cup, I was more than impressed with the Timbers. There are a lot of interesting pieces on this team and if they can create a cohesive style, they could definitely cause some stirs throughout the season. It’s hard not to be excited about Kenny Cooper’s return to MLS after a rather unspectacular few years in Europe, and hopefully he will make a strong rebound and score plenty of goals. By expansion team standards, I think that this team is lined up to have a very good year and although I do not think they will make the playoffs, they should have a very respectable season. The one aspect of this team that I am most eagerly anticipating however is what they will bring to MLS off the field. The Portland fans, especially the Timbers Army have shown they have plenty of passion for their team and they will bring that in full force to the league. The games against Seattle and Vancouver should all have incredible atmospheres (hopefully similar to or even more spectacular than this). Overall, the Timbers seem to be set for a memorable inaugural season in MLS, likely causing a few upset along the way. They have good players and great fans, a wonderful combination that should provide plenty of entertainment.


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