Red Bulls-Timbers Preview
For their third Major League Soccer season, the Portland Timbers
are all but starting over.
They’ve got a new coach, a cast of new players and a new style.
They’ve even got new uniforms.
It is hoped the changes can right a team that went 8-16-10 last
season and finished eighth in the Western Conference. One of the
only positives last year was the Cascadia Cup, which the Timbers
claimed in the head-to-head competition with northwest rivals
Seattle and Vancouver.
Coach Caleb Porter is at the helm for the new season, which
opens at home Sunday against the new-look New York Red Bulls.
Porter was brought in by the Timbers after fiery Scottish coach
John Spencer was let go last June. Even though Porter was hired in
August, he didn’t join the Timbers immediately so that he could
finish out his seventh season as the coach at the University of
Porter led the Zips to an 18-1-3 record, the Mid-America
Conference championship and into the third round of the NCAA
tournament. It was the sixth straight season Akron had made it to
the postseason; the team won the national championship in 2010.
Right away, Porter established that the Timbers were moving
“We’re not going to dwell on the past. We’re going to focus on
what we are going to do moving forward to be successful. By no
means am I going to talk to the players so much about what they’ve
not done or what they’ve done wrong, we’re going to talk about what
we’re going to do right moving forward,” he said when introduced
Portland shed some players, including striker Kris Boyd.
Although he was paid $1.5 million last season, the Scottish Premier
League’s all-time leading scorer never found his form in Portland
and had just seven goals in 22 games.
Porter has been quick to put his own stamp on the team, bringing
in former Akron midfielders Ben Zemanski and Michael Nanchoff.
They’ll join former Zips forward Darlington Nagbe, in his third
season with the Timbers.
Other key additions included Argentine midfielder Diego Valeri
and French defender Mikael Silvestre.
Just a few days before the start of the season the Timbers also
signed striker Frederic Piquionne to a one-year contract.
New York (16-9-9) also underwent a significant offseason
transition. Hans Backe is gone as coach, replaced by Mike Petke.
Thierry Henry returns for his third full season while Kenny Cooper
and Rafa Marquez are gone. Tim Cahill will be in his first full
season with the Red Bulls after signing last summer from Everton in
the hopes of finally finding a postseason breakthrough.
“To have a preseason with this team, with a new coach, new
players, it’s important I feel because to get the understanding
because we’ve practically got a new working staff in the background
and probably about six or seven new players,” Cahill said. “It’s
basically a new team. It’s something that spending these four or
six weeks together is going to be important for the outcome of the
New York has added a world class player in Brazilian midfielder
Juninho, a former star in France. The club also brought in veterans
Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola from Real Salt Lake.
The Red Bulls, who have never won a major trophy, were
eliminated in the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals by D.C.
New York owns two wins and a draw in three all-time meetings