|It will be weird to see this guy in any other kit color than green.|
Some of that could be attributed to social media, which has alternated between being fascinating and excruciating in a matter of seconds. While there are benefits about sharing information worldwide and being connected with people all throughout the world, it also brings the reality of issues right to the forefront. Instead of being more collaborative and inclusive, social media has also contributed (in my opinion) to much of the fragmentation going on right our. Our current leader spends so much time spouting off about whatever random thoughts he has for the moment, and it causes shockwaves for hours until something else happens. But this pattern repeats itself over and over again with several other accounts, and as much as folks try to rally and come together, it seems like it gets pulled apart again as quickly. And trying to vet out what is actual news and information is its own challenge - because effectively social media has given everyone a platform to share their ideas and world view with whatever audience finds them. I've spent a lot of time on Twitter providing my thoughts about Timbers, politics, cats and whatever else is going on, so then when it's time to write in a more long term format, the ideas stall. And I think I've finally figured out why.
|What can this guy do for an encore after his 2017 season?|
I've never been party to talking about rumors, especially when it comes to the Timbers. Our club has grown from a mere afterthought in the USL/A-League/D2 days to part of the world collective of soccer, and if you really wanted to, there would be dozens of factoids about players that are interested in Portland, going to sign, not going to sign, or any combination of that. The ideas are started by agents, players, interested parties, or just other fans, and the credibility of those varies depending on the source. As an outlet, you could get totally bogged down trying to flesh all of this out and speculate for days upon end, but in the end, the end result is the reality of the roster. I'd absolutely love it if Messi decided to come to Portland, but it's likely never going to happen for a number of reasons - mostly money. And even if he did come at some point, it's likely that he would be here in the bare fringes at the end of his career. Yet it seems like every year during the Timbers offseason, the list of player wishes for signings always include the outlandish. Maybe it's supposedly funny, ironic, sarcastic, or some other idea, but for me, it's just plain stupid. I don't want to squash any ideas in that thinking because there have been several recent developments that I never thought I would see, and that keeps me humbled in knowing that while some events might be unlikely to happen, that doesn't mean they can't.
|Team Tortie will be back in 2018 with some content.|
Savarese had interviewed for MLS coaching jobs in Houston (2015) and Minnesota (2016), and was very close to becoming the Loons' first ever coach until the 2 sides couldn't reach financial terms for a transfer. Despite being in serious financial trouble, the Cosmos paid their coaches reasonably well and had a large transfer fee associated with Savarese put in his contract. Frustrated by the financial issues with the Cosmos and the league in general, Gio's contract expired at the end of 2017 which allowed him greater flexibility to find an ideal fit. Sure enough, the Timbers came calling and the sides were able to work out acceptable terms. Savarese has an extensive group of contacts from his many years in the game, and I feel it's only a matter of time before those names and links produce awesomeness. If you follow the rumors - and while I may not report on them, I still follow them to see what is going on - there are several names appearing that would vault the Timbers' roster from very good to exceptional. On January 8, the Timbers will have Gio's introductory press conference, and I'm curious to hear not only what he has to say, but if some of the rumors turn out to be factual or not (and I do expect some nuggets to be shared). I don't know if the conference will be streamed, but I will be there to cover it for my first official press appearance for 2018.
|I hope he is healthy and ready for 2018.|
The next move saw Mattocks traded to D.C. United for an international spot, but the biggest shock of the offseason saw Portland trade their first ever MLS Super Draft pick to Atlanta in a record setting deal. Nagbe had asked the Timbers for an increased salary, but Portland decided to move him and Arokoyo to Atlanta United FC for 2018 and 2019 General Allocation Money (available for any salary use), 2018 Targeted Allocation Money (used to reduce salary on selected players) and another international spot totaling $1.65 million. Additional TAM could be included to Portland depending on how well Nagbe performs, but after watching Porter leave, it was tough for many fans to see Nagbe depart. There is nobody better in MLS in my opinion at moving a soccer ball in traffic from box to box than Darlington, and Timbers fans were spoiled to watch his absolute creativity and deftness on a regular basis, but for me, the question has always been will we see him make the leap from really good player to upper echelon. There were glimpses of the talent at times with rocket goals, dizzying passes and aggressive play, but to me, Nagbe's career with the Timbers always seemed to be steps behind where it might have been. Played as a wing early in his career under Spencer in a very direct system, Nagbe appeared to struggle to find comfort in the attack until Wilkinson took over upon Spencer being dismissed, and Darlington could roam more. Reunited under his coach in college, Nagbe alternated between both wings, central attacking and defensive midfielder, but I wondered at points if he was truly in the right spot.
|I really am excited to see what Sebastian Blanco can do in 2018.|
Nagbe's departure shocked me for several reasons - most notably, he was one of the longest tenured players on the side and there were no inklings that he wanted to leave that were indicated. He's become identified with the team very closely, especially now since being added to the USMNT roster regularly. Having a young family here as well that had established roots, I honestly thought Nagbe was a Timbers lifer until the trade was officially done. The big question in Atlanta won't be if the offense will score goals, as they have a collective of strikers that would scare most sides, but what will Nagbe bring to the attack if the coaches can inspire him enough to display it? Atlanta essentially needs a creative box to box midfielder for distribution, and in that respect, Nagbe will fit that role very well. If they need for him to contribute more goals, however, that remains to be seen whether he can do more than score the highlight reel variety efforts. Look, I'm not disputing that Darlington has talent, that's never been a question, but whether he is able to put all of it together to dominate a match. In my opinion, we only saw glimpses of him doing that in Portland during his tenure. When he was fully on and engaged, it was a treat to watch but I honestly wished we would have seen it more.
|This view will be dramatically different coming soon.|