Looking Towards 2013
With quality play to build on from this long season, how will Merritt Paulson and the gang turn disappointment into success in the Rose City?
Here are 5 things to be excited about.
1. Caleb Porter arrives
Sometimes, the waiting is the hardest part. Following Portland’s embarrassing loss at Real Salt Lake on July 7, head coach John Spencer was shown the door. Gavin Wilkinson took over as interim coach, but this team lacked an identity the remainder of the year.
Porter will bring an identity to Portland.
His legacy at Akron speaks for itself, with a national championship in 2010 and perhaps another coming this season (currently ranked #1 with a 15-1-2 record), Porter is an up and coming coach.
Perhaps the most motivating factor for Timbers fans to be excited about is Porter’s lack of success with the U-23 team. The US under-23 team failed to qualify for the Olympics, and this failure has truly spurned Porter. This head coach wants to lead the US national team someday, to do that, he will need to have success at the next level. In this case, the Portland Timbers will benefit Porter’s climb.
2. Young Stars Progress
Although the majority of the Timbers squad is incredibly young, the progression of three players this offseason could propel Portland into the playoff picture.
The most important piece falls on 2011 second overall pick Darlington Nagbe, who’s miraculous goals (2011 goal of the year winner, nominated again in 2012) and feel for the game have made him one of MLS’s finest young stars. If Nagbe can develop a killer instinct and improve this summer finishing, he could jump into elite status.
If 2010 first overall pick (with Philadelphia) Danny Mwanga can force his way into next year’s lineup Portland should be ecstatic. His upside is through the roof, and everyone that saw what he did at San Jose on September 19 knows what he is capable of, Mwanga finished with two fantastic goals-one with great presence and the other with fantastic power in the 2-2 draw.
Last year’s first round pick only played in a few games, but the physicality D Andrew Jean-Baptiste brought could really develop with a full offseason. His central defense could change the atmosphere around Jeld-Wen for years to come.
3. New Kits
There has been no formal announcement of new uniforms, but there are some signs suggesting a change.
Call it a conspiracy theory, but the sale going on at the Timbers’ official online store is insane. The sale has reduced the price of all green and red jerseys to $64 and is now buy one, get one free. Two jerseys for $64 bucks?!
Sounds like someone is trying to unload all their jerseys before unveiling new kits.
The white “third kit” will still be in play, but the Rose City will enjoy some change to the present jerseys.
4. O Valencia!
Unfortunately, Timbers fans never got to see the youngster, as a season-ending knee injury derailed the forward. If Portland parts ways with Boyd or Mwanga fails to progress, Valencia may get his chance after all in 2013.
5. Defending the Cup
An MLS Cup would be great, a Supporters Shield would be fantastic, but the Cascadia Cup is the prize Portland always wants.
The King of Clubs will get to defend the crown next season. Even though Portland was the only Cascadia team to miss the playoffs, the Cup is in Portland where it belongs.
Here’s to 2013, Cheers!