Portland Timbers

Top 5 can't miss Portland Timbers home games of 2017

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Top 5 can't miss Portland Timbers home games of 2017

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We all know it’s a long season and every match counts. But let’s be honest: Some games are just a hell of a lot more fun to see in person. In case you don’t know, every home match is going to be a sellout. With all the season ticket holders in attendance, there are only a handful of tickets available for each game. The bigger the game, the more difficult it is to get a seat, especially at the last minute. So impress a date, give the most memorable birthday present of the year, or just grab your best friend and go.

Superstars, hated rivals and new franchises make up the marquis matches this year at Providence Park. Whether you’re a die-hard member of the Timbers Army or can only make it to a few games this season, here are the ones you just can’t miss:

OPENING DAY
Friday, March 3, 2017
Minnesota United FC

Be a part of history. This is the inaugural season for MNUFC in MLS, and the Timbers have the distinct honor of hosting the Loons on Opening Day. Minnesota recently signed Trinidad and Tobago star Kevin Molino, formerly of Orlando City, and he’ll be out to prove that he’s one of the best attackers in the league. This is a nationally televised match, and Minnesota will be looking to make history. Get your tickets early. Like, now!

Sunday, May 14, 2017
Atlanta United FC

Like Minnesota, this is also Atlanta’s first year in MLS. Let me tell you: If you have to pick only one game to go to this year (besides the Sounders game), this is it. Atlanta is looking to be a powerhouse right out the gate. They are spending a ton of money on international stars and don’t plan on coming in to MLS to lose. This is another one for the history books. My prediction: Atlanta makes the Eastern Conference playoffs in their first year in the league. Can the Timbers slow them down? Get out there and see for yourself.

Sunday, June 25, 2017
Seattle Sounders FC

This is nothing less than the Game of Thrones. King of the NW is at stake. David vs Goliath. If you can only make it to one game this year, this is it. The Sounders come in as the reigning MLS Cup champs, and you’d better believe that the Timbers and the Timbers Army are going to come out to dethrone them, especially after the smack talk by Clint Dempsey at the Sounders MLS Cup victory rally in Seattle. Regardless of where either team is in the table at this point in the year, this is going to be THE game to see.

Sunday, August 20, 2017
New York Red Bulls

The New York Red Bulls are the best team in the Eastern Conference without a Cup to show for it. They haven’t had much luck in the playoffs, but no team has been more consistent at staying atop the table over the course of the past few years. This is a great chance to see one of the all-time great attackers in MLS, Bradley Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips has been the league’s leading goal-scorer in two of the last three years. Last year he scored 24 goals to take the Golden Boot. Meanwhile, his teammate Sasha Kljestan led the league with 20 assists. The duo also finished in second and third place in the MVP race in 2016. Kljestan is currently representing the US National Team in their quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This is a rare occasion to catch an Eastern Conference powerhouse and to see some of the best stars playing the game today.

DECISION DAY
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The final match of the season and the final match in this year’s Cascadia Cup shootout just happens to be the final match on my can’t miss list. If you’ve never been to Providence Park for a rivalry game, you are in for a treat. Not only that, but it’s Decision Day, the final day of the season when playoff dreams are fulfilled and crushed all in a matter of hours. This is a rematch of last year’s Decision Day match, when the Whitecaps crushed the Timbers playoff dreams, leaving them as the first defending MLS champs since the 2006 LA Galaxy to miss the playoffs the year after taking the Cup. To add insult to injury, Vancouver clinched the Cascadia Cup at the same time. This will be one for the ages!

The Portland Timbers’ Place In The Wild, Wild West

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The Portland Timbers’ Place In The Wild, Wild West

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Coming into the weekend, the Portland Timbers were looking to clinch one of the six Western Conference playoff spots against visiting DC United. DC is the worst team in the Eastern Conference by a pretty fair margin, and are the second worst team in MLS only by a tie breaker with the LA Galaxy. DC hasn’t been in the playoff hunt in months. A match against a non-conference team with nothing to play for has the markings of dangerous all over it, but the Timbers proved why they are still within reach of the top spot in the West as the season nears its end.

There was plenty at stake for the Timbers, namely home field advantage in the playoffs, and a chance for a bye rather than a first round knockout game. The Timbers came to play, led, as usual, by midfielder Diego Valeri. Valeri entered the afternoon two goals back of Chicago’s Nemanja Nikolic in the race for the Golden Boot. Valeri picked up a penalty kick goal in first half stoppage time; however, Nikolic was already well on his way to earning himself a hat trick against Philadelphia, taking his season goal tally to 24 by the end of the day. With only one regular season match left, it would take a miracle for Valeri or anyone else to catch him.

Valeri is still in the race for the Landon Donovan MVP award, and here’s why I believe he should win it: Against DC, not only did Valeri strike from the penalty spot, but he also had two assists. He now has 21 goals and 11 assists on the season. The only top scorer in the league that comes close to Valeri’s assists total is last season’s MVP, NYCFC’s David Villa, who currently has 20 goals and 9 assists. Not only that, but Valeri leads the league in game-winning goals with 7. He’s a helluva a defender, too, and to accomplish all of that from the unflashy confines of midfield… c’mon. Without Valeri putting in the season he has (especially with Fanendo Adi out for as long as he has been) Portland has no chance to be fighting for the top spot in the West on the final day of the season.

On this day, Portland dismantled DC in Providence Park, giving the home crowd plenty to cheer about in a 4-0 route. Valeri opened the scoring with his pk, then Alvas Powell got the second half off to a great start with a stunning goal in the 50th minute. Ten minutes later, Sebastián Blanco scored an even more stunning goal from nearly the exact same spot as Powell’s golazo, then capped the game with a ridiculous, patience solo effort with only minutes to go. The victory put the Timbers in second place, with a shot at first next weekend against rivals Vancouver Whitecaps.

Meanwhile in Cascadia, the Seattle Sounders handled FC Dallas in much the same way that the Timbers handled DC, defeating their visitors by the same 4-0 margin. Both teams now have 50 points on the year, two back of first place Vancouver. It is important to note that Portland holds the tie breaker (more wins) over Seattle if the two teams end the season on the same point total after next week’s games.

Vancouver had already clinched a playoff berth before this weekend. Now Portland and Seattle have locked themselves into the postseason along with Kansas City and Houston. San Jose, Salt Lake City and Dallas are all eyeing the West’s final playoff spot on Decision Day.

Portland will be fighting for the top seed in the Western Conference Sunday, October 22, but it will be no easy task. They will have to face first place Vancouver, while Seattle hosts the conference bottom-dwellers, the Colorado Rapids—who, by the way, have only won a single match on the road this season. Vancouver, Portland, Seattle and Kansas City all have a shot at the top spot in the West, but if Portland wins, the top seed is theirs. With a loss on Decision Day, they could finish the season as low as fourth. A draw against Vancouver keeps the Whitecaps on top and allows the Sounders a chance to capture the second seed with a victory against Colorado.

Think that’s a lot of Vancouver/Seattle talk? There’s more. Not only will this game determine the final seeding in the West, it also represents the decisive match in the annual Cascadia Cup. A victory would earn Portland the coveted hardware, while a draw or loss would put the Cup in the hands of rival Seattle.

Portland Timbers acquire central defender Larrys Mabiala

Portland Timbers acquire central defender Larrys Mabiala

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that the club has signed central defender Larrys Mabiala, utilizing Targeted Allocation Money. Mabiala is scheduled to join the Timbers roster during Major League Soccer’s summer transfer window in July, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

“We are pleased to acquire a player of Larrys’ quality and experience, and we are excited that he has chosen to join the Portland Timbers,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “This has been a positional need since losing Gbenga Arokoyo to an injury and while it took longer than we would have liked, we are delighted to add a proven central defender with the right profile to help the team. We are pleased to welcome Larrys to Portland and look forward to his contributions to the club.”

Mabiala, 29, joins Portland with 201 professional appearances since making his debut in France’s Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain in 2007. A native of Montfermeil, France, Mabiala comes to Portland after spending the past six seasons in the Turkish Super League with first-division clubs Karabükspor and Kayserispor, making 162 appearances (160 starts) in Turkey’s top flight. Additionally, Mabiala has made a combined eight appearances (5 starts) in the UEFA Europa League with Paris Saint-Germain and Karabükspor.

“Larrys Mabiala is a player that will bring a strong, physical presence to our team,” said Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers. “His experience and leadership will be key and we expect him to make an immediate impact once he is fully transitioned.”

After spending his first two professional seasons with Paris Saint-Germain (2007-2009), Mabiala signed with OGC Nice ahead of the 2009-2010 Ligue 1 campaign. In three seasons (2009-2012) with Nice, Mabiala made 36 league appearances (36 starts), before transferring to Karabükspor in Turkey. 

While playing with Karabükspor from 2011-2015, Mabiala made 104 league appearances (104 starts), while also featuring four times (4 starts) in the UEFA Europa League. Most recently, Mabiala spent two seasons (2015-2017) with Kayserispor in the Turkish first division, compiling 58 appearances (56 starts) in league play. 

At the international level, Mabiala has made nine appearances (9 starts) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo National Team, starting in six 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, while also making two appearances (2 starts) in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and a friendly appearance in 2008.         

Transaction: Portland Timbers sign defender Larrys Mabiala on June 26, 2017.

Larrys Mabiala
Pronunciation: mah-bee-ah-lah 
Position: Defender
Height: 6-2
Weight: 185
Born: Oct. 8, 1987, in Montfermeil, France
Last Club: Kayserispor
College: n/a
Citizenship: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Acquired: Signed on June 26, 2017

Timbers draw Sounders 2-2 in Cascadia rivalry match

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USA Today Sports Images

Timbers draw Sounders 2-2 in Cascadia rivalry match

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers drew 2-2 with Seattle Sounders FC Sunday evening at Providence Park in front of a sellout crowd of 21,144. Portland forward Fanendo Adi scored his 50th career goal for the Timbers with a penalty while midfielder Dairon Asprilla headed in a goal late in the first half.

Match Moments

11' - CHANCE (POR) - Following a strong defensive stop on a Seattle free kick in the Portland end, the Timbers came out on a blistering counter attack. Midfielder Diego Chara fed forward Adi in the box and his close range effort was kicked aside by Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

18' - STOP (POR) - Seattle's Brad Evans dribbled to the Portland end line before crossing it back to forward Jordan Morris near the top of the six yard box. But defender Alvas Powell provided a a timely interception to kick the ball free. Powell adeptly then headed away a follow-up shot.

27' - GOAL (SEA) - Seattle's Joevin Jones dribbled in from the left hand side and shot a low drive on frame that Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson initially made a strong save on. However, Jones then collected his own rebound and scored. Seattle led 1-0.

36' - CHANCE (POR) - Portland kept up the pressure and after working the ball around the edge of the area, Chara lofted in a cross towards the left post that Asprilla leapt high to head off the top of the cross bar.

44' and 45' - RED CARD (SEA) and GOAL (POR) - Following some strong play in the Seattle box, midfielder Darlington Nagbe found himself with the ball at his feet in front of goal. Seattle's Evans tried to stop him but ended up tangling legs and pulling him down. Referee Ricardo Salazar immediately pointed to the spot for a penalty kick and gave Evans a straight red card for the foul leaving Seattle at 10 men for the remainder of the match. Portland striker Fanendo Adi stepped to the spot and converted with authority past Frei to tie the game at 1-1. It was also Adi's team-leading 50th career goal for Portland.

45+4' - GOAL (POR) - Following an errant back pass from the Seattle defense that resulted in a corner kick for Portland, Asprilla scored with a spectacular header via David Guzmán's pinpoint service. Timbers led 2-1 heading into the half.

68' - CHANCE (POR) - On a botched Seattle throw-in back to keeper Frei, defender Román Torres casually went to retrieve it. Portland's Diego Valeri alertly pounced on the ball and nearly scored but the ball went just wide of the right post.

73' - SAVE (POR) - Seattle's Nicolás Lodeiro teed a up a knuckling shot from distance that Gleeson got low to parry away. The Portland goalkeeper then caught the ensuing corner.

90+4' - GOAL (POR) - In a last chance run, Seattle's Torres crossed a ball into the area that Sounders forward Clint Dempsey headed past Gleeson to tie the game at 2-2.

The Portland Timbers return to the road next Saturday to play Sporting Kansas City at Children's Mercy Park on July 1

Timbers grab three points with 2-0 win over San Jose

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Alyssa Koberstein/ CSN

Timbers grab three points with 2-0 win over San Jose

PORTLAND, OR - One was all it took. A lone goal early in the second half of action was enough to bring home a victory for the Timbers.

The Timbers offense looked very good early, getting multiple chances on goal, but just couldn’t put anything home. Honestly, it was hard to tell if the Timbers looked locked in of if San Jose just looked that bad.

For much of the match San Jose looked out of sorts, and not much of a threat to score at all. The only thing they looked able to do was inflict bodily harm on Portland. In the 37’ Earthquakes defender Darwin Cerén was given a yellow card for a hard foul. Less than 60 seconds later he barreled into Sebastián Blanco, was given his second yellow card and was sent to the locker room.

He wasn’t the only San Jose player to get a little extra curricular activity in. Marco Ureña got tangled up with Jake Gleeson early in the second half, and could be seen throwing a soft kick at the Timbers goalkeeper.  A few plays later Gleeson was diving for a loose ball, when Ureña came flying in. Ureña made a lazy attempt to jump over Gleeson, let his back foot drag, and kicked him in the back of the neck/head as he went by.

Gleeson remained on the turf for a few minutes while trainers checked on him, but for the remainder of the match he could be seen getting his thoughts across to San Jose in what one can only assume was some not safe for work vocabulary.

Neither of Ureña’s plays resulted in a card, but they fired the Timbers up. 

Now, back to the important stuff: Valeri and his goal(s). In the 50’ The Maestro found a small hole in the Earthquakes’ defense, poked the ball past the defense and in for a goal. Ironically many of the Timbers missed shots on the night bounced off the goalpost, and Valeri’s made goal did the very same. In the end, it doesn’t have to look pretty; it just has to go in.

Valeri grabbed another goal during second half stoppage time, just to put a little icing on the cake. 

In the locker room Liam Ridgewell said Valeri got lucky on his second goal. As the old saying goes, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Tonight Diego Valeri was both.

Final Score: Timbers 2 - Earthquakes 0

Next Up: The Timbers return to the pitch next Saturday, June 10, as they play host to FC Dallas. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm at Providence Park.

Portland Timbers – Looking back on the loss in Seattle

Portland Timbers – Looking back on the loss in Seattle

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The Timbers-Sounders rivalry, which kicked off on May 2, 1975, represents an aspect of American soccer culture that is unmatched in the U.S. 42 years of history. 42 years of American soccer. This past weekend Portland made the trek north, for a road match that had much more than just three points on the line.

The Portland Timbers have two wins on the road this year. Unfortunately, one of those did not occur in the unfriendly confines of Century Link Field in Seattle. Away losses were the Achilles’ heel of last year’s Timbers. And with midfielder Diego Chara out due to a red card suspension, they were not playing at full strength. But still, they came out strong and confident from the opening kickoff. They looked great until Nicolás Lodeiro’s shot off a quick throw in. You probably remember that shot. The shot that led to Jake Gleeson’s “Save of the Week”-caliber diving effort.

Less than three minutes into the match, while Seattle was preparing to take their first corner of the game (which resulted in the Sounders goal), Fox Sports announcer John Strong said of Gleeson: “He’s been forced into more saves per 90 minutes than any goalkeeper since the beginning of last year.” Things that make you go hmmm.

And then came the goal.

After the goal, the game became a bit more balanced. Although for the most part, Portland did seem to keep possession and control the overall pace of the game throughout the first half. But the Timbers didn’t seem dangerous for most of that time. In fact, I believe it wasn’t until the 25th minute before fans heard the name Diego Valeri on the national television broadcast. Again, I have to point to the absence of Chara. Without Chara on the field, the Sounders knew they were much less likely to get punished for focusing on limiting the chances of Valeri.

Portland’s keeper handles more stress than any other keeper in the league? That’s a pretty disturbing idea. Also disturbing is that the Timbers have not scored a goal off of a corner kick this season. They are one of only five teams that can say that. That’s a miserable stat. 

So I guess it’s no surprise that the best missed chance of the game came off a corner. It happened in the 44th minute. How do I describe it? Hard to watch. In what was nearly a mirror image of Seattle’s early goal, defender Liam Ridgewell found himself alone in front of an empty net with the ball just barely out of reach.

The second best chance for the Timbers came in the 12th minute, when Darlington Nagbe picked off an errant square ball from Seattle’s Cristian Roldan and ran 60 yards with it, drawing the attention of the Sounders defense as Fanendo Adi made his run to Nagbe’s left. Entering the box, Nagbe’s final ball needed to be better. It was a second too late and Adi’s advantage was lost. There was one other solid chance for the Timbers, a cross into the box that Adi was unable to connect with.

Sebastian Blanco was one of the few bright spots in the match against the Sounders. I think they let him go. I think their plan was to make Blanco beat them, not Valeri, not Adi, not Nagbe. Not up the middle. Blanco played well, giving much needed width to the Timbers attack, but he did not have the deadly impact the Timbers needed in the final third. You may remember I had high hopes for Blanco as a goal scorer. I wasn’t the only one.

This past week, Matthew Doyle, MLS’ Armchair Analyst, said of Blanco: 

“This has been a good year for newcomers, but one who has not lived up to the billing is Timbers attacker Sebastian Blanco, who has just a single goal and a pair of assists in his first 1,000 MLS minutes. He’s looked much more of a pass-before-the-pass guy, and a useful shuttler of the ball, but not at all the type who can unlock a packed in defense.

This is pretty shocking to me, since Blanco was awesome for San Lorenzo and is, on paper, a perfect fit with the other Portland attackers.”

Looks like the Timbers have a few things to sort out as summer approaches.

An Interview With Marco Farfan, The Youngest Player On The Portland Timbers

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An Interview With Marco Farfan, The Youngest Player On The Portland Timbers

BY: MIRIAM LUDLOW, OSN

With time, we have witnessed athletes jump into the spotlight at young ages. A few to name are: Kobe Bryant, 17 years old when he was drafted by the NBA; Julio Urias, joined the Dodgers, MLB at the age of 19 and who could forget Freddy Adu, drafted by the MLS at only 14 years of age. While they all share the “young professional athlete” status, each of their careers has its own story to tell. Today OSN has the pleasure of giving you an insight view to the life of Marco Farfan, the youngest Timbers’ player.

Marco Farfan was born November 12, 1998. He is 19 years old and attends Centennial High School. A graduate of the Timbers Academy, he is the first homegrown player the Timbers enlist into their ranks. With 19 years of age, one has to wonder where did the dream start for such a young player, but most important how does he balance it all. To give us an understanding of how it all works OSN had a 1:1 with Marco himself.

OSN: What is it like to be in High School and a professional soccer player?

Marco: It’s nice. I need to graduate. I am only taking a class right now; That is all I have left (college English).

OSN: What kind of impact does going to school while playing pro soccer have on your concentration when you are playing? This is demanding, how do you balance that?

Marco: I kind of got used to it since last year. Obviously with T2 I did it, like I said before and last year I was taking more classes than this year so it kind of gets easier as it goes. I switch my concentration if I am at school or at soccer, so I just focus.

OSN: I read that you grew up in a family that loves soccer. So did I. My family breaths, eats, sleep soccer and even some rivalry. What was it like growing up in your family?

Marco: I mean we didn’t have that rivalry going on between us. My whole family goes for the same team, Mexican team PUMAS. My mom is from Mexico City, my dad is from Michoacan. So we would just go to a couple of games when I was younger to PUMAS and every time we would go on vacation we would at least try to make one game.

OSN: How do you get from being a fan to being here?

Marco: I feel like I just stayed focused in soccer. I really wanted to become a professional soccer player, just watching my brother play, so that kind of inspired me. I wanted to be like him and try to be like him or better than him. So with my whole family’s support it helped me focus on soccer and stay away from the bad distractions at school and stuff, so I felt that kind of helped out.

OSN: You are a young player. Most of the players at the Timbers are older, some even parents. What is that like to play with others who are at a different stage in life than you are?

Marco: I don’t know. It is not that much of a difference for me, because I mean, I have my own little nephew at home. My sister lives with us; I take him as my little brother. Just playing with these guys they have kids of their own and I feel their support they have for me. And you know they really help me out when I am in the field with them.

OSN: What is the one thing you have learned the most about so far with the Timbers?

Marco: I feel like I just had confidence, (in my opinion), obviously the coaches, the whole coaching staff, the whole organization and staff have been very supportive. I feel like I have been improving, I feel like I have improved in my defensive work and you know that is my position, I am a defender so that is something I really need to work on every single time and have it down and I feel my defensive work has grown.

OSN: I heard you missed Prom. How was that?

Marco: Yeah. I don’t think many of my friends went. They made this rule you got to have 80% of attendance to go to Prom. So when they made that rule everyone was in shock so not many people went. I already knew I wasn’t going to be able to go, so it wasn’t a surprise. But, I am happy as long as I am playing.

OSN: What can we expect from you for the rest of the season?

Marco: You know I am just going to keep on working hard and obviously try to get better every day and depending on how I do, I hope I do well and it’s up to the coaches to see what they want to do with me.

***
Marco’s tenure with the Timbers is as young as he is. He has started his career with the right foot, by not only playing but being part of at least three starts so far this season.  And yes, while most of his team mates have a striking different life, that is only off the field as Marco goes through the same training regimes and has the same expectations upon him any of the other players have.

Judging by the amount of play time he has earned so far, it is safe to say that not only do his teammates support his talent but Coach Porter trusts him as a player too.

Marco certainly highlights the success the investment the club has put into the Timbers Academy and of course the dedication of producing players ready to step into the professional level at this age.

Marco is known for being extremely dedicated and passionate about his game. His love for the game is tangible and his commitment for sure is one to witness through his game.

Marco and the Timbers play the Seattle Sounders this coming Saturday, May 27, at 12:00 PM at CenturyLink in Seattle, Washington.

Timbers come close to win, settle for draw against United

Timbers come close to win, settle for draw against United

For 45 minutes on a rainy, then sunny, then rainy Mother's Day, the Portland Timbers and Atlanta United played the feel-it-out game. With few shots on goal, and very few cards pulled, both clubs seemed content to make this a second half affair.

It did not take long for that narrative to play out.

Just thirty seconds into the second half, Atlanta's Julian Gressel got one past Jake Gleeson, giving the United a 1-0 lead. It only took the Timbers four minutes to respond. Off a corner kick, Liam Ridgewell knocked in his first goal of the season, giving the Timbers the draw. 

"Pretty even game, overall. Disappointed to give up that early goal in the second half, but then I thought from there, the next 44 minutes were all us," said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. 

After the two clubs knotted it up, the final 40 minutes saw frenetic play, mostly from the Timbers, as numerous shots on goal went just high, a tad far left, or right into the surprised, yet waiting arms, of United goalkeeper Alec Kann. No sequence summed it up more than in stoppage time, with the Timbers threatening, and David Guzman's strike from 50 feet practically denting the post, coming inches from delivering the win.

"I thought we gave it everything we had," said Porter, who's team dropped to 5-3-3 on the season. "I thought we were going to get the goal to win the game. A couple bounces that maybe go different, you know, the post, all the times the ball's in the box. Couldn't quite get the half chance, a couple through balls that just didn't get through."

It was a solid bounce back from the Timbers, who feel 0-3 last Saturday to the Earthquakes. Playing again without Darlington Nagbe, whom Porter said should be back for the upcoming two-game road trip after an injury, the Timbers appeared to find some cohesion, but still appear to be a step off from their early season successes. 

Portland heads to Montreal next Saturday, before renewing their rivalry with Seattle on the 27th. Overall, the Timbers are in a stretch of four games out of five on the road.

Porter said playing without Nagbe - who, along with Guzman, will be away from the club in two games - is something the club needs to figure out. 

"We're going to be losing, in two games from now, Darlington and Guzman. So we're going to have to figure out that mid-spot," he said. "Can we get better chemistry with Roy (Miller)? I thought today we did miss Darlington. You see that. Sometimes you don't know how good a guy is or isn't until he's gone."

Portland Timbers prepare for most challenging game of the season

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Portland Timbers prepare for most challenging game of the season

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This Saturday, April 29th, at 5:00 PM PT, the Portland Timbers will face the biggest challenge of the season so far. The Timbers head down to Frisco, Texas to face FC Dallas, the only unbeaten team left in Major League Soccer.

The Timbers currently sit atop the Supporters’ Shield standings with 16 points after their first eight games. The next two teams, Orlando City (15 points) and FC Dallas (14 points), have each earned their position with only six games played. A victory on Saturday will do more than give the Timbers a bit of room between themselves and their Western Conference foe, it will decisively demonstrate who the best team in MLS is right now (sorry Orlando, make it to the Cup final and then we’ll talk).   

And they may need to do it without the help of arguably their best player, Diego Valeri. Valeri not only came out in the 80th minute of the Timbers victory against Vancouver with a hip injury, but had to be carried off the field on a stretcher, a sight that took away the collective breath of the Providence Park faithful. On Tuesday, neither Valeri, nor goalkeeper Jake Gleeson (both out with hip/hip flexor injuries), were active in practice. As of today, the team is reporting that both are still questionable for the game this weekend.

It should be noted that FC Dallas (eliminated from the playoffs by Seattle in the Western Conference semi-finals last year) have been without their star, Mauro Diaz, all season. Diaz tore his Achilles tendon in the final regular season game of last year. It is not hyperbole to state that after a dominant year that saw Dallas hoist up the Supporters Shield, Diaz’s injury ended the number one seed’s MLS Cup run. 

FC Dallas is coming off a 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City, the only other unbeaten team in the league until that game. They are playing with confidence, which is terrifying when you realize how much strength and skill is behind that confidence.

The Timbers are going to need to bring their A-game if they want to steal three points on the road. A draw would feel like a small victory in this one, but that’s not the kind of team the Timbers are. Forget about the road, the travel, the Texas heat. They are on top of the table for a reason: they are just that good. 

We’ve talked about Portland’s struggles on the road. Saturday is their chance to show the league after missing out on the playoffs last year, they are once again, the best team in MLS. At this point, still early in the season, the Timbers look like they’ve returned to the form that took them all the way to their first MLS Cup championship two seasons ago. And nothing, not even an injury to a player as important as Valeri, looks like it can stop them from continuing to improve and impress. The true sign of a championship team is when they can win amidst adversity.

A draw on the road is always a positive result, and a loss could be excused, especially with so many more games to play. But there is something more at stake here: The chance to be the first team to beat FC Dallas this year. The winner will stand atop this week’s MLS.com Power Rankings, and will stand alone as the team to beat heading into summer.

Providence Park to add 4,000 seats in modern expansion

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Portland Timbers

Providence Park to add 4,000 seats in modern expansion

Since the Portland Timbers’ arrival in Major League Soccer in 2011 and the addition of Portland Thorns FC and the National Women’s Soccer League in 2013, Providence Park has become one of the foremost venues in North American soccer. It has won numerous awards for its unrivaled fan experience and atmosphere and has been named FourFourTwo’s Best Stadium for Soccer in the United States as well as the top MLS stadium experience across all sports by StadiumJourney.com.

Originally built in 1926 in the downtown core of Portland, its 91-year history has seen the likes of soccer, football, baseball, dog racing, concerts, ski jumping, presidential visits and much more. Now nearly a century since it first opened, Providence Park is poised for another transformation. An already great stadium for sport will become an even greater cathedral for soccer, while helping meet the ever-increasing demand for tickets.

Club leaders have proposed a modern, yet historically influenced $50 million-plus, privately financed expansion project for the east side that would add approximately 4,000 new seats, a striking new street-level colonnade and an iconic, modernized expansion—all at no cost to the city or public. An expanded Providence Park will make the stadium viable for the future and help ensure that Timbers and Thorns FC remain in their unique downtown location long-term, well beyond the expiration of the current operating agreement in 2035.


(Allied Works Architecture)

The proposed design by internationally renowned and Portland-based architecture firm Allied Works would add a 93-foot high covered structure on the east side of the stadium, taking a vertical approach to a relatively small footprint while integrating well with the existing stadium. The proposed project includes four new levels on the expanded east side, with three of the four levels created for reserved and group seating sections to help meet demand, while including a unique, pedestrian-friendly public arcade along SW 18th Avenue.

While Providence Park is already a top destination for soccer, challenges for the future remain. The stadium has sold out for every single Timbers regular-season and playoff match at home since the club’s inaugural MLS season in 2011. The Timbers currently have an ever-growing waiting list of more than 13,000 fans for season tickets. MLS matchday ticket demand for the available supply is at a premium. In short, more people want to get in than can be accommodated.

“Providence Park is one of the most special stadiums in sports,” said Mike Golub, president of business for the Timbers and Thorns FC. “With our proposed expansion, we will enhance the incomparable fan experience and intimacy and provide the opportunity for some of the more than 13,000 members of the waiting list to become season ticket holders.”

Additionally, MLS is evolving rapidly as the league continues to grow in all areas and additional expansion teams come on line in the upcoming years. Stadia in Major League Soccer are growing in size and the rising economics of the league are making it increasingly challenging to compete, as Providence Park – with an existing capacity of 21,144 for soccer – currently ranks in the bottom half of the league in terms of size.

Inspired in part by the famous Shakespearean Globe Theatre in London and the iconic La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires—both with their upright vertical seating areas and literal on-top-of-the-action perspective—the new Providence Park expansion would complete the full U-shape stadium design as was envisioned by the original then-Multnomah Stadium architects of A.E. Doyle and Morris Whitehouse in 1925. The end result would “finish” the stadium after almost 100 years, completing a transformation to a fully realized, urban soccer stadium.

“The expansion of Providence Park will continue to honor the rich history and traditions of the stadium and city of Portland and marry them with the best of modern stadia,” said Golub.

This private investment into the city-owned venue also goes a long way towards keeping the club’s unique urban environment viable well beyond its current operating agreement. The added capacity to the century-old, community gathering space will better position it to attract additional, larger-scale soccer and special events, and will benefit other stadium users, such as Portland State University football. The expansion and ensuing increased capacity and public use would substantially increase the city ticket tax revenue that benefits directly back to the City of Portland.

While the team continues to work with the city and neighborhood association on specifics of the proposed project and the initial design-review process commences, the potential construction timeline would include a two-offseason process, beginning either at the conclusion of the 2017 or 2018 season at Providence Park and concluding in time for either the beginning of the 2019 or 2020 MLS season.

“This proposed project is a win-win for everyone involved, and we’ve been very encouraged by the collaborative work that’s been put into this project to date,” said Golub. “We still have some work to do, but we are actively working with the city and neighborhood association, and everyone is excited by the prospect of an expanded Providence Park and ensuring the long-term viability of this unique stadium.”