MLS Training Camp Preview: Portland Timbers

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By ADAM SERRANO

The Portland Timbers hope their look in their first year in MLS not as a typical expansion franchise, but instead as a powerhouse in the nation's top league.

The Rose City faithful will have much to be excited about in their first year in MLS with a club that appears focused on being electrifying right out of the gate. With players like forward Kenny Cooper, rookie Darlington Nagbe and Colombian trialist Jorge Perlaza, the Timbers appear ready for fireworks in 2011.

With all of their attacking power, it remains to be seen how the Timbers will manage keep the ball out of their own net. To bolster the defense, the club traded for veteran Troy Perkins from D.C. United, and he'll need to marshall a young and relatively inexperienced back line. With a cast ranging from Rodney Wallace to former Arsenal defender Kerrea Gilbert, the Timbers ability to defend may be the difference between being a contender or a pretender in the highly-competitive Western Conference.

Here is a look at the preseason plans of the Portland Timbers:

PORTLAND TIMBERS

Training Schedule: Feb. 10-16 in Portland; Feb. 18-26 at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Ariz.; Feb. 28-March 18 in Portland.

Preseason Game Schedule: Feb. 8 vs. L.A. Galaxy at Home Depot Center; Feb. 19 vs. Houston Dynamo; Feb. 23 vs. Montreal Impact at Casa Grande; March 4 vs. Seattle Sounders, March 7 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps at Starfire Soccer Complex in Tukwila, Wash.

Key Arrivals: GK – Troy Perkins; D – Rodney Wallace, Kerrea Gilbert; MF – Jeremy Hall, Peter Lowry; F – Darlington Nagbe, Kenny Cooper.

Key Departures: None (inaugural season).

What to Watch For: In the club's first year in MLS, head coach John Spencer is eager to make an immediate splash. With the addition of Cooper and potential signing of Perlaza, the Timbers have an experienced forward line that should cause a great deal of stress for rival defenses. The pair will need to be integrated into the squad soon with First Kick on the horizon. Perlaza is still currently on trial with the club having not formally joined the club yet, while Cooper is still in Germany getting his affairs in order before joining the Timbers.

Apart from the international additions, the real question will surround the performance of the Timbers' top draft pick, Nagbe. Already earning buzz as a Rookie of the Year candidate, Nagbe looks to be an integral part to the Timbers attack. A speedy attacker, Nagbe looks to be the "glue" type of player that could link up and help lead attacks for Portland. He has already scored his first goal with the club in the Timbers' 1-1 tie with the Ventura County Fusion earlier in the month.

Of Note: The Timbers currently have eight members from last year's team signed to contract with the club and another seven that are currently on trial…Forward Bright Dike will miss six to nine months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn achillies tendon…The Timbers preseason preperations include the "Cascadia Summit" in the first week of March, when the club will face off against each of its Northwest Rivals at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash….Portland will open its renovated PGE Park on April 14 against the Chicago Fire.

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18 Responses to MLS Training Camp Preview: Portland Timbers

  1. jts says:

    Am curious how Eddie Johnson (Brit) is viewed.

    He did not play in the first scrimmage and wonder if any of the faithful think he will play tonight?

  2. John says:

    EJ should play tonight. He seems to be a depth striker though.

  3. socnow says:

    He is a bit of a mystery since coming over from Austin. But now with Dike out I think Johnson will get more looks.

  4. kipkesgard says:

    I believe Eddie will be a huge asset to the club for 2011, as he’s extremely gifted with the ball at his feet. He also helps set up other teammates, and with the injury to Bright Dike, EJ will be counted upon a lot. From what I heard, the coaches held him out of Friday’s match in order to use him in today’s friendly versus the Galaxy.

  5. jonk says:

    Slightly off topic, but definitely check out the 3rd installment of mlssoccer.com’s Inside the Superdraft. The first 2 were all fluff, but the 3rd one gives a good look at how Portland’s draft day trades went down.

  6. Dustin says:

    Cooper seems to be spending his whole career “getting his affairs in order.”

  7. Benjamin C. says:

    Is Alex Nimo still with the team? If so, is anything expected of him?

  8. jonk says:

    Nope. He was never in camp with Portland so far as I know. And he isn’t back with RSL.

  9. CommonSense says:

    Nimo is still in Portland, my roomate played in a pickup game with him this weekend. I heard soemthing about a Seattle development slot but I’m not sure. I think RSL has released his rights. He’s not good enough to play in MLS, he didn’t even make a real impact for USL/D2 Portland. Alhassan’s arrival really made him useless. He’s the poormans Freddy Adu. Not nearly physical enough size wise, but lacks the speed to play outside nor the experience to play their natural #10 roles.

  10. Luis F says:

    I hope Portland does better than Philly did last year. There are so many question marks on the roster right now, I have no idea what kind of results this team will achieve. I really have doubts that Portland will be able to put a consistently good product on the field with this roster.

  11. Ryan says:

    Is Ryan Guy still trialing with Portland? I would like to see him make the squad as he would be an addition on the wings by pumping crosses into Cooper!!

  12. jonk says:

    He appears to still be in camp, but he hasn’t played in either of the preseason games.

  13. socnow says:

    Like any team in its inaugural season you just don’t know what’s going to happen. A lot of guys are playing together for the first time, a lot of young players too. I think they’ll have a great home-field advantage and that will give them a bump in their home record. The team isn’t using the word “expansion” because they don’t want to excuse poor play. But I’m not expecting miracles in their first season. What I want to see is a hard play to win style, good attitude, and improvement throughout the year.

  14. Casey says:

    Guy was injured in a practice, will rejoin the squad when training moves back to Portland.

  15. Kejsare says:

    Nimo was always in RSL’s camp, but since his Generation Adidas contract was up, RSL didn’t take him on nor did Portland extend anything to him.

  16. Ryan says:

    thanks for the updates…how long will is he out for?

  17. Ryan says:

    will he be out for…sorry.

  18. Kejsare says:

    I meant not training camp, but just on their roster until he was dropped in December.