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

Akron.

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

on.

“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

this year.

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

season.”

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.

United.

New York owns two wins and a draw in three all-time meetings

with Portland.