The 2023 MLS season is shaping up nicely and the Portland Timbers are doing their bit.
They have shaken off the scandal of the 2021 season and are fully focused on making the most of the new season. They have not started strongly however, but their last win gives the fans something to be excited about.
Culling information from the best bookmakers, Overlyzer takes a look at the Portland Timbers so far in this article. It will cover their squad and their possible finish in the 2023 MLS season.
The Portland Timbers squad
Portland Timbers came into the 2023 Major League Soccer season with a squad strength of 27. There are five international players, three homegrown players, two under-22 players and five designated players.
Of their current squad, 22 made it to this season from the 2022 squad while four came in as part of the MLS multilateral transfers. The biggest name on the roster is Evander. He is the star attraction that not only pulls crowds and sells jerseys, but gives the Timbers fans hope that their club can go places.
These men are managed by Giovanni Savarese, who is in his sixth season at the club. He joined the MLS franchise from NY Cosmos in 2017.
In the time he has been at the club, the Timbers have won the MLS is Back tournament and were finalists for the 2021 MLS Cup, which they lost on penalties. They have also been regulars in the MLS Cup playoffs but have been unable to make a big splash in the mini tournament.
They are currently ninth on the Western Conference table, two points away from seventh place which will see them make it to the MLS Cup tournament in the postseason. It does not inspire much confidence, however, because they just narrowly missed out on the 2022 postseason playoff.
Their top scorer in the first two months of the season is Juan Mosquera, a defender. This is similar to the 2022 season, where after three months, centre back Bill Tuiloma (now of Charlotte FC), was their highest goalscorer.
Savarese is still working on integrating his new signings, especially the Brazilian forward Evander, who is one of the team’s biggest pulls at the time.
He will also be looking at some signings in the secondary transfer window that opens up in the summer, especially after Eryk Williamson tore his ACL. He will be missing the rest of the season and Savarese will be without a key player, which is why the secondary transfer window will be important to his goals.
Portland Timbers in the 2023 season
After eight games played, they are ninth on the table and two points away from the playoff spots.
They have won two, drawn two and lost four to keep them in ninth place. They have a goal difference of -3 after conceding 13 goals and scoring only 10 in the process. Four of those 10 came in their last game against Seattle Sounders, who are third in the Western Conference table.
That was Sounders’ second loss of the season and it was a loss that threw all of Providence Park into wild celebrations because nobody saw it coming. Savarese ditched his favoured 4-2-3-1 for a 4-4-2 against Sounders, who deployed a 4-2-3-1. It would prove too much for the visitors in that game, because it effectively nullified their formation.
Both their wins have come at home, with the previous one being against Sporting Kansas on February 27. Juan Mosquera bagged the first of his two goals for the club in that game.
Prior to their win against Sounders, their most impressive game was against Los Angeles FC, who are the defending champions of both the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.
On March 4, they visited the defending champions and by the hour mark, they were already three goals down. Their comeback started in the 62nd minute with new signing Evander scoring what seemed to be a consolation goal. Cristhian Paredes got the second in the 84th minute and the visiting crowd cheered as loudly as the home crowd, hoping for a miraculous equalizer and a possible comeback.
It was not to be, but it showed what Savarese’s side were capable of.
With 18 games left to play and with morale boosting performances like these under their belt, the team from the Rose City could be returning to the playoffs in the postseason.
Prediction for the rest of the season
Aljaz Ivacic and Diego Chara were their most important players from last season. Both have started the new season strongly and are giving the team from the Rose City a leg up as they build momentum towards their goals.
Chara, 37, is a pivot par excellence. He is their chief destroyer and creator and without him, things fail to flow as they should in the middle of the park. Ivacic came in as a replacement for Steve Clark in the 2022 season in between the sticks. He kept them in the top eight for the whole season.
His efforts would not have been wasted if Dairon Asprilla got some support in the attack. Evander is a great addition to the team and though he has just one goal, he has shown great promise.
Juan Mosquera has stepped up just like Claudio Bravo did in the latter part of last season to support the team’s attack from the fullback role. Should Savarese find a way to get both his right and left fullbacks to contribute more to the attack, he could easily get as high as fourth, where they finished in the season they got to the MLS Cup final.