The new season is now just one week away and in the build-up to the first game, we’ve had an MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what to expect from the Portland Timbers in 2015…
The Portland Timbers head into their fifth MLS season after joining in 2011. They looked set to be on course for a playoff finish in 2014 until the penultimate game of the season when a 0-0 draw at home to Real Salt Lake allowed the Vancouver Whitecaps to agonisingly nip in ahead of them by just one point, despite the final day victory over FC Dallas for the Timbers. Head coach Caleb Porter will be hoping he can inspire his side to perform to the same level as last year while tweaking some minor elements of the team to make them that little bit more effective.
Last season’s finish: Western Conference position: 6th – P34 – W12 – D13 – L9Embed from Getty Images
What needs to change this year?
Portland Timbers need to start the season better this time around. They didn’t record a victory until their ninth game of the season in 2014 and that left them playing catch up for the remainder of the campaign. The Timbers only managed 10 points from their opening 11 games and that hampered their progress massively.
Despite the slow start, they finished the season brilliantly with just one defeat in their final nine games, picking up five wins and three draws. If the Oregon side can carry that vein of form through to 2015 then they will have a good chance of having a successful year.
Turning some of the draws into wins at home is another important area that could be improved. Portland only managed five victories on home soil in 2014, while they played out nine draws.
Key changes to the squad:
Ins: Adam Kwarasey – Goalkeeper, Nat Borchers – Defender, Jeanderson Pereira – Defender, Dairon Asprilla – Midfielder
Outs: Donovan Ricketts – Goalkeeper, Michael Harrington – Defender, Pa Modou Kah – Defender, Rauwshan McKenzie – Defender, Danny O’Rourke – Defender, Steve Zakuani – Midfielder, Kalif Alhassan – Midfielder
Key Player: Diego Valeri – MidfielderEmbed from Getty Images
Diego Valeri will miss the start of the 2015 campaign through injury and is hoping to return by May. The Timbers need to ensure they don’t feel the full force of his absence in the early stages of the season. The Argentinian playmaker scored 11 goals, made 14 assists and was the stand-out player for Portland in 2014. He will be crucial for the Timbers as they look to mount a serious challenge for a top-six finish in the Western Conference and qualify for the playoffs.
One to watch: Fanendo Adi – Forward
Fanendo Adi notched an impressive nine goals from just 18 starts in 2014 and also made four assists. The big Nigerian forward could play an important role when he leads the line for the Timbers. At 6 feet 4 inches, he provides a different proposition for opposing teams compared to other forwards in this Portland squad. He’s only 24-years-old so he’s got a promising career ahead of him and if the Timbers are to challenge for the top spots, his excellent goals-per-game ratio could be crucial.
Predicted finish: Western Conference – 3rd
The Portland Timbers have only recorded one playoff finish since their participation in Major League Soccer began in 2011. However, they look in great shape to be one of the strongest sides in the Western Conference in what promises to be one of the most exciting MLS seasons to date.
What are you expecting from the Portland Timbers in 2015?