The Portland Timbers finally made some moves to begin their 2014 off-season. The Timbers declined the 2015 contract options on Kalif Alhassan, Steven Evans, Bryan Gallego and Pa Modou Kah. Defenders Rauwshan McKenzie and Danny O’Rourke are out of contract and have not been extended offers. Both players, as well as Alhassan, will be eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft.
It appears that Evans has signed a contract with Portland’s USL-Pro team, T2 while Jose Aldolfo Valencia was sold to Club Olimpo Bahía Blanca in Argentina. With some of these moves it appears that the Timbers are looking to become a better team on defense.
Here is a list of the players that are currently under contract for the 2015 MLS season:
GOALKEEPER: Donovan Ricketts
DEFENDERS: Jack Jewsbury, Norberto Paparatto and Liam Ridgewell
MID-FIELDERS: Diego Chara, Will Johnson, Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri
FORWARDS: Fanendo Adi, Schillo Tshuma and Maximiliano Urruti
Forward Gaston Fernandez is currently in talks with the club for a new contract. The Timbers have also exercised the purchase option on defender Alvas Powell from Jamaican club Portmore United. Powell has been with the Timbers since June 28, 2013 after he was acquired via loan from Portmore United.
Powell is coming off a career high in appearances in MLS with 15, starting 11. He is also a member of the Jamaican National Team, being capped 18 times since he made his debut in December of 2012.
Notably the biggest move the Timbers have made this off-season was the acquisition of Nat Borchers from Real Salt Lake. The 33-year-old spent the past seven seasons in Salt Lake, helping lead the team to the 2009 MLS Cup title and earning a spot on the 2010 MLS Best XI.
Borchers called and spoke to Captain Will Johnson before making the move:
"“I spoke to Will on the phone before about making this decision. He’s been treated very well by that club. He’s performed very well, obviously. He’s made that transition from being a good player at RSL to being at another club. His experience was very important for me to understand. Obviously I made a very good decision because Portland’s a great club to play for.”"
This is a great move for the Timbers as they get a veteran center back to pair with Ridgewell. With this addition the Timbers have to ability to have one of the best center back pairs in the league and almost instantly improve their back line.
It pains me to say this as a Sounders supporter, but the Portland Timbers just got better. A lot better.