The Portland Timbers were eliminated in Round One of the MLS Cup Playoffs to FC Dallas this year. Probably Portland has made the most noise in the offseason and MLS Cup Final has not been played. The club has not even announced their roster yet as the club heads into the offseason. One of the biggest priorities for the club is to strengthen the defense and not concede goals late in matches. This season the Timbers conceded more goals in the final fifteen minutes of a match more then any other team in league. Portland did this fifteen times. It’s a distinction the Timbers do not want to have again and General Manager Gavin Wilkinson has been hard at work to put the team in the right direction.
On Thursday December 3, Portland traded away 22year old homegrown fullback Marco Farfan to LAFC. In return Portland will receive $300,000 of general allocation money. Signed back in 2016 as the clubs youngest signing ever, Farfan leaves Portland making 23 starts in 34 appearances with the first team. With Farfan going to LAFC, his addition will provide depth in a position in an area struggled for Bob Bradley.
This trade comes at a time as Portland are negotiating a deal for 23-year-old Argentine left back Claudio Bravo from Banfield, a team in the Argentina Primera Division. Bravo will join fellow countrymen Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco, and Tomas Conechny on the roster. It’s unclear if Bravo will be the team’s primary leftback as veteran Jorge Villafana has been relishing his return to Portland having been brought back at end of the August as a T.AM. signing in 2018. It’s possible Bravo and Villafana may split playing minutes next season.
Today the club is also in negotiations of parting ways with Costa Rican center back Julio Cascante, trading him to expansion side Austin FC. It’s been reported by MLS that Portland will receive $250,000 in allocation money. Cascante joined Portland in 2018 after playing two seasons for Saprissa.
Negotiations have been ongoing as the Timbers hope to find a solution that gives an extension with center back Larrys Mabiala as well.
No Drastic Change for The Offense
Management feels there’s not much needed to bolster the offense in the offseason but that doesn’t mean there isn’t work still to be done for Gavin Wilkinson. The biggest priority is retaining Chilean striker Felipe Mora. He came to Portland from Mexican club Pumas UNAM this year on a one-year loan. Making 12 starts in 19 appearances, Mora would score 7 goals and have 2 assists. It’s imperative to the Timbers that a deal can be reached with Mora as Polish striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda is out with an ACL injury and according to the fan site Stumptown Footy won’t likely be able to play until midseason.
Speaking of returns from ACL injuries argentine midfielder Sebastián Blanco is slated to return to play either in March or April. Blanco underwent surgery back in September after tearing his ACL six minutes into the September 6 regular season match against the Seattle Sounders. Portland would go onto win the match 2-1.