After winning the MLS Cup last year, 2016 was a harder road for the Timbers. Much of the issues came down to injuries, which exacerbated a lack of roster depth and exposed players who weren't carrying their weight. What do they have to do this offseason to turn things around?
Troy WayrynenTroy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive midfielder depth
Diego Chara is a solid defensive midfielder, and in fact, it was his ability to hold down the midfield on his own in a single pivot that helped the Timbers win MLS Cup in 2015. But Chara will be 31 next season, so he won't be around long-term, and the Timbers don't have true depth there anymore if he does get injured.
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There's no way around it: Lucas Melano turned out to be a bust. It's still unclear what put Dairon Asprilla in the dog house. And the Timbers have been missing Rodney Wallace ever since he left. They didn't score nearly enough or create enough from the wings, and that is a top priority.
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Nat Borchers went out with a season-ending injury over the summer and it's doubtful he can make a return because he wasn't playing great to begin with anyway. Steven Taylor arrived from Newcastle and wasn't very good. On top of that, Liam Ridgewell has been increasingly injury prone. They need someone who can start and be reliable.
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Jake Gleeson is a fine starter, but it's the depth at goalkeeper that should be a concern. Gleeson was a longtime back-up and moved to the starting role when Adam Kwarasey got injured. They brought in Chris Konopka as a back-up and he isn't a bad option – he started most of Toronto's matches last year. But if Gleeson got injured, they might be putting themselves at risk. Konopka has been in MLS since 2007, and other than last year, he only made two appearances. Toronto saw getting a new goalkeeper as a key for their rebuild that got them into the 2016 MLS Cup.
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The Timbers have fullback options, but none have been able to get forward and contribute to the attack in the way they want. That was one of the things that made Jorge Villafana so important to their MLS Cup run, and the fullbacks they have now just don't bring that sort of attacking ability to the pitch.