2021 Season Preview: Portland Timbers

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC might have "won the west" in a weird year with an unbalanced schedule, but the Portland Timbers finished tied for first (lost on PPG) and did it without star playmaker, Sebastian Blanco.

They've had a busy offseason though, so it'll be interesting to see where they land in 2021. Portland has been one of the few MLS teams to make big roster moves this offseason. While many clubs stood pat or made small transfers based on COVID and the CBA negotiations, Portland took a swing.

2020 Stats:

Leading scorers: Diego Valeri (8), Jeremy Ebobisse (8), Felipe Mora (7), Jaroslaw Niezgoda (7)

Leading assists: Diego Valieri (5), Jorge Villafana (5), 4 others tied at (4)

Transfers in:

Claudio Bravo - Argentine LB. TAM deal. Argentina U-23 international

Josecarlos Van Rankin - Mexican RB. Loan with a $1 million option to buy.

Transfers out:

Marco Farfan, Jorge Villafana, Julio Cascante, Chris Duvall, Jorge Moreira, and Andres Flores.

Portland transferred out their starting fullbacks but upgraded by adding a very promising LB in Bravo and a strong player from Chivas in Van Rankin. Their biggest weakness is a lack of depth at fullback, especially at left back where they don't have anyone behind Bravo.

The bigger issue will be whether Portland can fight off father time for another year. Diego Valeri is one of the greatest playmaking #10s the league has ever seen. He'll be 35 in May and has a lot of mileage. Sebastian Blanco is coming off of an ACL tear and turns 33 on March 15 (Happy birthday, Seba). Can he rebound from the injury to become the dynamic attacking player that helped knock Sporting out of the playoffs a few years ago? Lastly, Diego Chara, Portland's midfield destroyer turns 35 in April.

An injury for Valeri or Chara could easily tank Portland's season, as they rely so heavily on the Diegos. This doesn't even account for DP, Jaroslaw Niezgoda who tore his ACL in November and is likely going to miss a large chunk of the season. If he can return late in the year, it'll be like a brand new signing for the Portland attack.

Season outlook: I won't make a points prediction, but Portland upgraded with two attacking fullbacks who should help give support to Felipe Mora, Jeremy Ebobisse, and Yimmy Chara. This team, if healthy, is going to be very dangerous.

This post created by a member of The Blue Testament community. Opinions are all their own.

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