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3 Ways The Portland Timbers Can Return To The MLS Cup

The 2015 MLS Cup champions took an unexpected turn in 2016, going from league champions to missing out on the playoffs entirely. The Timbers finished with a record of 12-14-8, just missing the playoffs in seventh-place in the Western Conference.

The Timbers will be looking to make it back into the postseason in 2017, and here are three areas that they will have to improve on to make that happen.

Improved Play Away from Home  

Last season, the Timbers away record was the worst in MLS at 0-11-6. On the other side of the coin, the Timbers had the third best home record in the league, finishing 12-3-2 at Providence Park. Put simply, they'll need to win an away fixture or two this season.

In MLS, teams historically struggle on the road and last season was no different. Teams at the top of the table finish with an average away record, while teams at the bottom finish with just a mess of an away record. If the Timbers can figure out a way to become average on the road, they have the potential to be Supporters' Shield winners.


Equal Attacking Contribution        

Darlington Nagbe

Darlington Nagbe needs a big year for Portland. Photo: @MLS | Twitter

Last season, only a couple of players shouldered the scoring burden for the Timbers. Fanendo Ali would contribute 16 goals of his own for the team. The other contributing member of the Timbers attack was Diego Valeri, who finished the 2016 season with 14 goals. The Timbers will be hoping for more contribution from the rest of their roster this season.

The Timbers have been busy this offseason, but one of the main players fans should be excited about is David Guzman. The Costa Rican defensive midfielder came to the Timbers from Costa Rican club Saprissa. The 27-year-old midfielder found a lot of success with Saprissa, winning five Primera Division championships and helping his club to the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League semifinal.

Guzman has 26 caps for the Costa Rican national team and will provide the balance that allows other players to join the attack.

The Timbers have also signed Argentine Sebastian Blanco from San Lorenzo as a DP. Blanco has also played in the Ukrainian Premier League and scored a goal for La Albiceleste.


This was a question mark for the Timbers last season after an injury to Adam Kwarasey threw Jake Gleeson into the starting lineup. One of the goalkeepers the Timbers have brought in is Jeff Attinella.

Before coming to the Timbers, Attinella was a member of Real Salt Lake. Attinella is known as a capable backup goalkeeper, which is the role he'll likely serve behind Gleeson. Gleeson was involved in a DUI case at the end of last season, but he's since taken steps to help the community as a voice against drunk driving.

The main question is can Gleeson hold together the Timbers defense following the retirment of Nat Borchers?

Kendall McIntosh, who played for Portland Timbers 2 in the USL last year, will serve as the No. 3 goalkeeper.

The Timbers have definitely improved over the offseason, but only time will tell if these acquisitions will result in another playoff appearance for the club. The Timbers raise the curtain on a new MLS season by hosting Minnesota United FC on March 3rd, a match that will be broadcast on FS1.

That match is followed by a visit to Los Angeles to play the Galaxy. Can the Timbers manage to eclipse their away victory total from last season in one match? We'll find out.

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