Portland Timbers Profile
|Major Honours||MLS Cup (1), MLS is Back Tournament (1)|
The 2015 MLS Cup winners' famous name dates back to the days of the North American Soccer League.
The Portland Timbers joined Major League Soccer ahead of the 2011 season after being announced as an expansion team in March 2009. They are owned by Peregrine Sports with Merritt Paulson as the CEO. They are the fourth soccer team in Portland to use the name Timbers.
The name was first used in 1975 in the North American Soccer League and again in the United Soccer League from 2001-10, with the team being branded USL Timbers. Portland's current logo kept the USL team's circular shape and it features an axe that represents the logging industry in Oregon. Three gold chevrons form a pine tree and refer to the three separate leagues in which the Timbers have played; the NASL, the USL and MLS. The Timbers traditionally wear all green kits at home and after wearing red kits on the road from 2012-17, they switched to white away kits with green trim in 2018 with a black alternate kit.
Providence Park was named PGE Park when Paulson and his ownership group bought the USL Timbers and Minor League Baseball's Portland Beavers, who also play at the stadium. The stadium is the oldest soccer-specific stadium in MLS, dating back to 1893. It has hosted games in the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the 2014 MLS All-Star Game and the 2015 NWSL Championship Game. The Portland Thorns of the NWSL have the same ownership group and also play at PGE Park.
The Timbers made the MLS Cup play-offs in 2013 and qualified for their first CONCACAF Champions League. They won the MLS Cup in 2015 and finished atop the Western Conference in the 2017 regular season. They again reached the MLS Cup final in 2018 but finished as runners-up before winning the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament and securing a Champions League berth.
The Timbers have had two highly successful managers in Caleb Porter and Giovanni Savarese. Each manager has reached the MLS Cup final and both led the Timbers to a major trophy.
Some of the big-name players to have played for the Timbers are Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, Steve Clark, Diego Chara, Fanendo Adi, Brian Fernandez and Jeremy Ebobisse.
Welcome to MLS
The Timbers hired John Spencer, an assistant with the Houston Dynamo, as their first manager. They brought a handful of players up from the USL and traded the top pick in the Expansion Draft for D.C. United defender Rodney Wallace. They also traded for D.C. United goalkeeper Troy Perkins and Sporting KC midfielder Jack Jewsbury before signing forward Kenny Cooper from 1860 Munich. With the second overall pick in the SuperDraft, they took midfielder Darlington Nagbe from the University of Akron.
Their first-ever MLS game was a 3-1 loss against defending MLS champions Colorado Rapids, with Kenny Cooper scoring their first goal. Their first MLS home game was on April 14, 2011 - a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire in front of 18,627 fans. Jorge Perlaza scored twice in this game. A month into the season, the Timbers signed midfielder Diego Chara from Colombian side Deportes Tolima and made him their first Designated Player. The Timbers struggled in the middle of the season with two separate three-game losing streaks and just one win between May 21 and August 3. Ultimately, the Timbers finished sixth in the West, missing the play-offs by seven points. Cooper and Jewsbury led the team with eight goals each.
Before the 2012 season, the Timbers brought in goalkeeper Joe Bendik and traded Cooper to Red Bulls for draft picks and allocation money. They also added forward Kris Boyd, a Scotland native. The season started with just one win from their first six games and at the end of July, the Timbers were at the bottom of the conference. Spencer was fired on July 9 and general manager Gavin Wilkinson took over on an interim basis. The Timbers won twice in August and finished the season in eighth place in the West. Boyd led the team with seven goals, while Nagbe scored six times that campaign.
Caleb Porter joins the Timbers
Before the 2013 season, the Timbers hired manager Caleb Porter from the University of Akron and the United States U-23 team. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, added in late 2012, stayed as the starter for 2013, with Perkins traded away. Portland added midfielder Will Johnson, forward Ryan Johnson and midfielder Diego Valeri. Valeri started the season on loan but was signed to a Designated Player contract in August. He was subsequently named MLS Newcomer of the Year.
Porter's tenure started with a 3-3 home draw against Red Bulls as Valeri scored on his debut. After three draws and a defeat, the Timbers won three out of four in April. They played 15 in a row unbeaten before a mini-slump in the middle of the season. The Timbers finished strongly though, with six wins and three draws in their final nine games to finish in first place in the Western Conference. Porter was named MLS Coach of the Year and Ricketts won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year as Portland led the conference with just 33 goals conceded.
Portland's first-ever MLS Cup play-off game was against local rivals Seattle Sounders away from home. Portland won 2-1 with goals from Ryan Johnson and Nagbe before also winning the home leg 3-2. In the Western Conference finals, the Timbers were upset by Real Salt Lake, losing 4-2 and 1-0 in the two legs. In the 2013 US Open Cup, they reached the semi-finals before also losing to Real Salt Lake, this time 2-1.
Portland started the 2014 season without a win from their first eight games and with just one win in their first 11. Despite a flurry of late victories, the Timbers finished sixth in the West and missed the play-offs by one point. Valeri scored 10 MLS goals over the season while Nagbe and Will Johnson had nine each.
They played in the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time with group games in August, September and October. Portland won three games but lost to CD Olimpia in the last game and didn't advance based on away goals.
After another slow start in 2015, the Timbers got going with four straight wins in late May and six wins out of seven before a skid in July. They won their final three regular-season games, including a 5-2 win over LA Galaxy, to qualify for the play-offs.
At home in the knockout round, the Timbers and Sporting KC played an epic 2-2 draw that wasn't settled until the 11th round of penalty kicks as Adam Krawasey beat his counterpart for the win. In the conference semi-finals, they drew 0-0 at home against Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg before winning 2-0 in the second leg through goals by Adi and Chara.
Portland hosted the first leg of the conference final and thumped top-seeded FC Dallas 3-1 before drawing the away leg 2-2. They had five different goalscorers in the tie as the Timbers advanced to their first-ever MLS Cup final. This match took place in Columbus and Portland had a dream start as Valeri (pictured) scored in the opening minute, with Rodney Wallace making it 2-0 six minutes later. The Timbers then withstood a late barrage of shots to beat Columbus 2-1 and lift the MLS Cup.
After winning the title, the Timbers brought in midfielder Jack McInerney while Villafana, Wallace and Will Johnson left. In the CONCACAF Champions League, they won two out of four group games, with a draw thrown in too, and didn't advance to the knockout round. The 2016 MLS regular season was disappointing for the defending champions too, with more losses (14) than wins (12). The Timbers missed the play-offs by two points after losing the final game of the regular season, 4-1 in Vancouver.
The Timbers bounced back in 2017 with 15 wins and they tied for first in the West with rivals Seattle. Both teams had 53 points and Portland took the top seed due to having had one more win than the Sounders. In the first round of the play-offs, Portland drew 0-0 in Houston in the opening leg before losing at home 2-1 in the second leg. Houston won the game with a goal in the 77th minute, and Porter resigned once the season was concluded.
Giovanni Savarese replaces Porter
With Porter's resignation, the Timbers brought in Giovanni Savarese as their new manager. The Venezuelan native had played in MLS with NY/NJ MetroStars, New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes while also playing in Venezuela, England and Italy. He had coached at St. John's University as an assistant and managed the New York Cosmos in the NASL from 2012-17.
Darlington Nagbe was traded to Atlanta United in the off-season while the Timbers added defenders Andy Polo and Eryk Williamson. During the season, they brought back Villafana, added goalkeeper Steve Clark and sold Fanendo Adi to FC Cincinnati.
The Timbers didn't win any of their first five games in the 2018 MLS season, but they ran off six straight wins heading into June. After a 15-match unbeaten run, the Timbers crashed back to earth with four consecutive losses in August. They bounced back to win five of nine games and make the play-offs with a fifth-place finish in the West though.
In the knockout round, they beat FC Dallas 2-1 on the road as Valeri scored both goals. Ebobisse and Blanco then scored in the first leg of the West semi-finals against Seattle Sounders for a 2-1 victory, but after the second leg ended 3-2 to the Sounders, the tie went to penalties. Jeff Attinella made a save in the shootout and Portland won 4-2 to advance to the West finals. After a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the West finals at home, Portland went to Kansas City and beat them 3-2. Portland went to Atlanta for the MLS Cup final but lost 2-0.
Portland added forward Brian Fernandez as a Designated Player in May 2019 after a rough start to the season with one draw and five losses. They recovered to make the MLS Cup play-offs with a sixth-place finish in the West. In the play-offs, they lost to Real Salt Lake 2-1 in the first round. They also made a run to the US Open Cup semi-finals before losing at Minnesota United 2-1.
The Timbers added Polish striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda on a Designated Player contract before the 2020 season and brought in defender Dario Zuparic too. Fernandez was removed from the roster and Zarek Valentin went to Nashville in the Expansion Draft. The 2020 season was suspended by COVID-19 in March and 24 of the league's 26 teams met in Orlando, Florida, in July for the MLS is Back Tournament. Here, Portland won their group with 2-1 wins over LA Galaxy and Houston, plus a 2-2 draw with LAFC. In the last 16, Steve Clark made two saves in the shootout against FC Cincinnati for a 4-2 win after a 1-1 draw. Blanco, Valeri and Polo scored in a 3-1 win over NYCFC in the quarter-finals before Ebobisse and Blanco netted in a 2-1 win over Philadelphia in the semis. In the tournament final, the Timbers lifted the trophy as Zuparic scored in the 66th minute for a 2-1 win over Orlando City SC.
The Timbers finished third in the MLS regular season's Western Conference standings and qualified for the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League and the 2021 League Cup. They couldn't make another play-off run, though, with a first-round loss to FC Dallas on penalties.
Portland Timbers' rivals
Portland have two major rivals in the Pacific Northwest - the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps. The three teams play every year for the Cascadia Cup. The rivalries all go back to the 1970s when all three teams were in the NASL. They all met again in the USL in the 2000s. Portland have won the Cascadia Cup four times, twice since joining MLS (2012 and 2017).
Portland's rivalry with Seattle dates back to 1975 and has been cited as the most fierce rivalry in North American soccer. Portland eliminated the Sounders from the 2013 and 2018 MLS Cup play-offs, the latter on penalty kicks. In MLS games, Seattle have a 12-10 advantage with six draws. The teams have met eight times in the US Open Cup, including four meetings since 2014. Overall, Seattle have won five of those games, but Portland have taken two of the last three.
The rivalry with Vancouver is a bit tamer but still dates back to 1975. Portland hold a 12-7 lead in MLS play with seven draws. They also eliminated the Whitecaps from the 2015 MLS Cup play-offs with a 2-0 aggregate win.
Portland Timbers' top players
Diego Chara has played most often for the Timbers with 282 MLS games since 2011. Diego Valeri is right behind him with 233 in MLS play. Darlington Nagbe (214), Jack Jewsbury (157) and Fanendo Adi (120) round out the top five in terms of matches played.
Valeri has 84 goals in MLS play and 95 overall in a Timbers jersey. Adi scored 60 times overall before going to Cincinnati, while Nagbe netted 31 goals in a Portland kit. Sebastian Blanco enters the 2021 season with 26 MLS goals and 31 overall for Portland. Jeremy Ebobisse has 19 goals in the last two seasons, tying for the team lead in both years.
Portland Timbers News
- Apr 13, 2021
- Feb 12, 2021
- Feb 03, 2021