Portland Timbers

Darlington Nagbe is missed already for the Portland Timbers

USA Today

Darlington Nagbe is missed already for the Portland Timbers


The 2018 MLS season is underway! Well, I’ve missed the punch a bit I guess. The season has been underway for almost 2 months but it feels like less since the Portland Timbers only just played their first home game a week ago. The first kick of the 2018 season brought with it some big changes to the Timbers organization. In fact it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it was the dawning of a new era. After all, there was a new coach patrolling the touchline.

At the end of the 2017 season, head coach Caleb Porter’s abrupt announcement that he would be stepping down as head coach sent waves of surprise that bordered on shock rippling through the soccer world. He was at the helm for five seasons and although Scottish coach John Spencer preceded him, Porter is the man who will be remembered as the original commander-in-chief of the MLS-era Timbers. But while Porter might have instilled the confidence and tactics to win an MLS Cup in 2015, it was another member of the organization who better embodied the spirit of the club.

Darlington Nagbe.

This offseason, Timbers fans watched sadly as the soft-spoken talisman waved goodbye to his first professional club and signed for expansion side Atlanta United.

Nagbe was the Timbers’ first-ever SuperDraft pick way back in 2011. Even players who reach grand levels of success in college can have trouble adapting to the MLS, but not Nagbe. After winning the Mac Hermann Trophy (the Heisman Trophy of college soccer) in 2010 at the University of Akron—where, incidentally, Caleb Porter was head coach at the time—he transitioned seamlessly to the professional game and started 21 games in his rookie season. His confidence would only grow as Porter took the reigns of the franchise in 2013.

For the next five years, Nagbe would develop into a special player, setting the bar higher and higher for himself each season. In his head-down, straight-to-business way, he developed a reputation around the league for being grossly underrated. The recognition that he deserved would come eventually. After he became a U.S. citizen in 2015 he began representing the United States National Team on a regular basis and in 2016 he was selected as an MLS All-Star.

Nagbe was the ultimate utility player; so diverse and intelligent that even after seven seasons watching him play for the Timbers, it’s still difficult to determine where on the field he is most effective. He was comfortable drifting onto the wing and running at defenders, dropping deep in midfield and initiating the attack, buzzing around underneath the striker or even spearheading the offense as a lone striker.

He scored 27 goals and notched 30 assists in Timbers colors but it was what he did away from the ball that made him so valuable. While so many players these days throw their hands in the air when they don’t get the ball in the exact way that they want, Nagbe was the exact opposite. He never shied away from doing the dirty work, the selfless and often un-praised running that was so important in creating the space less mobile creative players to work their magic, a true team-before-self player.

As a testament to his character, it should be noted that Nagbe was a two-time MLS Fair Play Award winner: an honor awarded to the player who stands out for displaying exceptional sportsmanlike behavior throughout the season while also committing a small number of fouls. This award might seem as though it is all about character and not about soccer ability but that’s not the case. When he won the award in 2013 and 2015, he committed a total of 8 and 11 fouls respectively. From this statistic we can draw the conclusion that he was incredibly disciplined and hard working defensively because he was so rarely caught in a bad position where was forced to commit a foul.

His goals were worth the price of admission. He was never a volume goal scorer but the goals that he did score were usually something special. Our jaws hit the floor when he scored his first. In a game against Sporting Kansas City in what was then Jeld-Wen Field. He gathered a clearance out of mid-air, juggling it twice before volleying it viciously into the top corner. It won 2011 MLS Goal of the Year and remains the greatest goal ever scored at Providence Park by a long way.

In the young history of the Portland Timbers, Darlington Nagbe has cemented his status as a Portland hero. After his departure, there only remains goalkeeper Jake Gleeson and unsung midfield engine Diego Chará who were members of the original MLS Timbers roster from 2011.

Atlanta United won’t make the trip to Portland during the 2018 season, but one day Darlington Nagbe will return to Portland in colors other than green and gold. So when that day comes, sing his name in the stands of Providence Park and remember all that he gave us, the Timbers’ first true legend.

Blazers, Thorns, Timbers, Winterhawks, and Hops combine disaster relief efforts

Blazers, Thorns, Timbers, Winterhawks, and Hops combine disaster relief efforts

The following is a joint press release from the Trail Blazers, Timbers, Thorns FC, Winterhawks and Hops

PORTLAND, Ore. (September 5, 2017) – With disaster response and relief efforts happening in their own communities and across the country, the Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), Portland Timbers (MLS), Portland Thorns FC (NWSL), Portland Winterhawks (Western Hockey League) and Hillsboro Hops (Northwest League) will band together to raise much-needed funds and blood donations to channel through the American Red Cross.  This is the first joint-philanthropic initiative among the five local professional franchises focusing on a specific cause – to bring aid to victims of Oregon’s wildfires; Hurricane Harvey in Texas; and the potential impact of Hurricane Irma in Florida.

“The destruction we’ve seen from the Oregon wildfires and Hurricane Harvey is heartbreaking,” said Chris McGowan, President & CEO of the Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter.  “The journey to recovery will be a long one for all impacted areas. The professional sports community here in Portland is rallying our respective fan bases, employees and partners to contribute resources to assist in the effort where it’s needed most.”  

“Our hearts go out to the families and individuals affected by the devastating fires in Oregon and the communities in Southeast Texas as they begin the process to rebuild and heal,” said Mike Golub, President of Business for the Timbers and Thorns FC. “By working together with our local partners, we are able to maximize our collective impact in support of the communities affected by the devastation caused by these disasters."   

The first steps taken will be to hold individual blood drives starting tomorrow, with each team hosting its own specially-designated day at the headquarters for the Portland American Red Cross, located at 3131 North Vancouver Avenue.  The need for blood is constant and the American Red Cross is the largest supplier of blood and blood products to hospitals in the nation. 

Fundraising efforts by each team will take place in the coming weeks and months at select home games and events to be announced soon.  The Timbers, Thorns FC and Hops seasons are currently underway, with the Winterhawks and Trail Blazers beginning their 2017-18 seasons soon.  Additional information will be posted on each team’s website and through their social media channels.

“We’re pleased to be involved with the team effort to raise funds and support the relief efforts locally and nationally,” said K.L. Wombacher, President and General Manager of the Hillsboro Hops.  “Having two players on our roster that we care deeply about being from the Houston area, Hurricane Harvey hits home for us. Our hearts go out to all those who have lost so much over the last week. We hope to do everything we can to help them get their lives back.”

"Between the forest fires threatening the Northwest and the hurricanes causing catastrophic damage on the Gulf Coast, the resources of the American Red Cross are being stretched to the limits," said Doug Piper, President of the Portland Winterhawks.  "We are proud to stand with the Portland sports community and bring aid to those who so desperately need it.”

Red Cross blood donations can be conveniently scheduled online at www.redcrossblood.org for any of their blood drive locations throughout the region; or through the mobile app by texting BLOODAPP to 90999.  Here is the schedule of upcoming blood drives hosted by each Portland-area pro sports team (**Note:  Donors should use visitor parking for their vehicles, or dial (503) 528-5800 for parking guidance if visitor spaces are full):

  • Wednesday, September 6 – Hillsboro Hops; 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 7 – Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC; 80 appointment slots from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Friday, September 8 – Portland Winterhawks; 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 9 – Portland Trail Blazers; 100 appointment slots from 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

For financial donations, text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps people affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires and tornadoes.  Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Donors must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Message and Data Rates may apply. Text STOP to 90999 to STOP. Text HELP to 90999 for HELP. Full Terms and Privacy Policy: hmgf.org/t.

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

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

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


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


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


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.

Portland Timbers prepare for most challenging game of the season


Portland Timbers prepare for most challenging game of the season


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

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.”

Portland Timbers have the most dangerous attack in MLS

USA Today

Portland Timbers have the most dangerous attack in MLS


There has been a small contingent of soccer analysts that have been very vocal about the strength of the Portland Timbers attack coming into this season. Expectations were high going into opening day, and a 5-1 victory over Minnesota United showed that indeed, this team was ready to score goals. After three games now, they are showing no signs of stopping.

As it stands, the Timbers sit in first place and remain one of only five unbeaten teams in the league. They are also the only team to win their first three matches. FC Dallas has two wins and a draw and Orlando City has two wins, but have only played two matches (their March 11 match against the New England Revolution was postponed due to winter weather concerns in southern New England). Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC have each started the season with one win and two draws.

The Timbers added another convincing win on Sunday against Houston. Going into the half, the Timbers were trailing 2-1 after conceding a goal late in stoppage time, but answered with three second half goals to come away with the 4-2 victory. Valeri turned in another impressive performance, scoring two goals, while Adi sealed the game with a lovely, patient goal in the 88th minute.

Valeri and Adi were on from the start, combining on a give and go that set up a Valeri shot within the first 20 seconds of the game. The two would go on to have four shots each. The Timbers attack created a lot of chances in the first half, but only came away with a single goal, while the defense let two slip through. After the half, though, it was all Timbers. Three second half goals lead to a convincing win against the strongest opponent the Timbers have faced so far.

In addition to three victories, the Timbers also see two of their stars sitting in the number two and three spots in the race for the 2017 Golden Boot, awarded to the league’s top scorer each year. Diego Valeri is second in the league in scoring with four goals, and Fanendo Adi is tied for third with four other players who have also notched three goals so far this season. It should be noted that one of those players, Cyle Larin, has done so in only two games so far for Orlando City. Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez has five goals in three games, including in a hat trick in a 6-1 thrashing of Minnesota United in a snowstorm last week. Minnesota also played a major role in the Timbers’ scoring efforts, with Valeri and Adi each scoring two goals in a 5-1 victory on opening day at Providence Park.

Their current form is not only clearly showing that they have two of the most dynamic and prolific scorers thus far in 2017, but is also making the case that the Timbers have the most dangerous attack in MLS.