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Timbers considering options as MLS expansion draft nears




The four walls of Gavin Wilkinson's office are covered with white boards on which there is much of the information the Portland Timbers' technical director will need for next week's MLS expansion draft.

But first, Wilkinson and other representatives of the organization will head to Toronto to be part of the MLS Cup festivities and gatherings this week. When they all return, the focus turns immediately to an important day for the new franchise.

"The preparation for [the draft] has been under way for some time," Wilkinson siad. "We've identified the players from every roster who we like."

Wilkinson said the Timbers will be looking for perhaps a veteran who can make an impact, but also a younger player with an upside. The Timbers are also willing to talk trades with other teams once they have made all 10 of their picks, to help ensure they get the players they seek.

Portland selects first, followed by the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps, and then the teams will alternate picks from round to round. The full list of unprotected players from all MLS teams will be given to Portland and Vancouver on Monday, with the draft on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

"For ourselves, picking first is brilliant, but coming into 2011 with Vancouver is not necessarily great for the Timbers," Wilkinson said. "We've got to make sure we maximize picks one through five so we get the best players we can get."

That is to say that the players the Timbers are really after must be chosen as early as possible, as the talent and potential could drop in picks 11 through 20.

In Wilkinson's office, every roster from every MLS team is on the boards, with player name tags that can be moved from one list to another. Then there are sub-lists of designated players, internationals and Generation Adidas players from all teams. 

For Wilkinson, the first pick figures to be the best player available on the board, regardless of need or position.

"After that, it's a a matter of balancing out the squad," he said. 

In making selections, the Timbers also want players that fit the club's philosophy of hard-working, blue-collar guys who will be contributors that the fan base can identify with. Coach John Spencer likes a 4-4-2 formation with wide players who get forward, and the Timbers, who already have their first four players signed from USSF Division II, will also consider box-to-box midfielders.

Wilkinson said the club hopes to announce a couple of more signings from the USSF Timbers before Christmas. Goalkeeper Steve Cronin, midfield wing Ryan Pore and forwards Eddie Johnson and Bright Dike are under contract for 2011.

"We want to be known as an organization known for being loyal to its players," Wilkinson said.


  1. The old crest needed minimal refreshing. My biggest specific criticism is that the tree is less recognizable.
    Great colors though. I’ll be cheering for this team for sure.

  2. Impatient? I’m impatient for the season to start, but I don’t care if the team is announced the day before the opening game.

    From a marketing perspective Timbers have done everything rather well since the USL season ended. This isn’t marketing but even if the draft is completely random I ain’t second-guessing them.

  3. I thought Chabala would be protected. He has done pretty well as a fullback. Mulrooney and Onstad are getting up there, so I can see them remaining unprotected, but undrafted. Don’t know how I feel about Serioux. Played a lot, but was only ok in the few times I saw him (although the defense in general was pretty bad). I could see Serioux unprotected just because they need some new blood in the back.

  4. I’ll take your bet and even give you 10:1 odds. There is NO way RSL is protecting Nimo. Now that he is no longer a GA player, RSL will not want to pay him 100K, especially after his comments (which pissed off Kreis). RSL will hope that the Timbers pick him so they don’t pick another player. If he’s not picked, RSL will trade him or cut him.

  5. I concur. And from what I’ve gathered from my fellow Portlanders, it’s unanimously agreed. Re-branding isn’t always necessary. Focus groups much?

  6. Apparently Portland fans don’t see much and Nimo and certainly not enough to buy him from RSL.

    Also I read he didn’t play much of the second half of the season for Portland. It could of been strategy. After all, RSL if i recall seemed unwilling to just let him go, seeing some sort of value in him.

  7. Spence is a lot like Dom Kinnear.

    I’ve done Mock Unprotected Lists on my Texas teams, and i can see Richard Mulrooney and Mike Chabala and someone he’d want to take from Houston. Maybe Pat Onstad and Adrian Serioux

  8. What balance? Right now, the roster is pretty much a blank slate. For instance, while I think the world of Cronin based on his limited time with DCU, if (hypothetically) Hartmann was made a available by FCD you’d be crazy not to go for him. OTOH, there is no NEED to go for a GK.

    To put it another way, you don’t need to field a team a week from now. You don’t need a GK, 4 defenders, 4 mids and 2 strikers on your roster. What you want to get are probably 2-3 likely starters, maybe 1-2 guys you can trade for something you can use (one team’s junk is another team’s treasure), and 4-5 guys who are young, cheap, athletic and might be decent players in 2-3 years (like Jason Hernandez was with Chivas).

    If you screw around with concepts like balance, you have an expansion draft like RSL’s where most fans were saying “hey…they might make the playoffs” and the reality is that they were gut-wrenchingly bad…b/c their draft contributed nothing and their foreign signings were mostly terrible. But hey–they had balance in the expansion draft (getting a GK–Countess, defenders like Pope, attackers like Kreis and Mathis–yep, they had balance all right).

    Portland fans are likely impatient. They want to see a team take shape before their eyes ASAP. Thus balance nonsense. Yes, you want roster balance. And you get that in February and March and April as you get first crack at waiver lists, the some foreign teams let players go on a free transfer to save bucks and other teams offer trade bargains to get under the cap. But for right now, you want players who fit your system or have potential, even if that means you draft 8 defenders.

  9. the MLS has a tv contract with Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN. Their contract with FSC just expired but Garber says their close to getting something done.

  10. uhhh, no im pretty sure that dp’s can be left unprotected. This is my thought because of all the talk about whether to protect Ljungberg and Castillo in Chicago

  11. This is why identifying talent outside of your own team is so important. Thats why i think Vancouver seems to have it really together and can make a run at the playoffs from the start, like seattle and chicago.

    Can’t say Cronin is any better then Nolly though. Both are gonna need someone to compete with them all year for the starting spot, or some who’s an automatic starter, i.e. Marcus Hahnemann

  12. I agree! Don’t forget Real Salt Lake, and Chivas in 2005! Single team expansion draft is a huge advantage. I think the MLS kissed Seattle’s butt when they came in the league. I just wish the MLS would make them/all teams have some kind of grass pitch only clause. Plastic/NFL pitches make the MLS look minor league. I say give the teams that don’t have soccer specific stadiums 2 years to be in the building process, or sell them to a city that will build. I’m talking to you “United” and “Revolution”. If you were selling tickets like Seattle then I can see it. Also, no more piggy backing/sharing stadiums “Chivas”. Time to get your own home, or move to St. Louis-

    sorry gang went way off topic.

  13. I bet RSL will protect Nimo to force Portland not to take any of their unprotected players. Considering Nimo has already explicated his desire to leave to Portland.

  14. You are correct! Generation Adidas players are safe. The teams have to portect all other players DP’s, on loans, etc. etc. Travis above had it completely backword. As an exmaple NYRB has to protect (DP) Henry, RSL has to protect (on loan) Sobario. Those players will have to be in the protected 11 for those teams.

  15. How is this expansion draft for Portland and Vancouver compared to previous years (Philly last year and Seattle a few years back)? Philly had no competition in the expansion draft while Vancouver and Portland will compete and the pool of talent will severly drop off after 10 picks.

  16. Wow.

    Maybe it is because I am from a “blue- collar” town and have worked a lot of “blue-collar” jobs but it seems like you don think too much of us “blue-collared” folks.

    When they were USL1 and USSFD2 Portland Timbers were always a “blue-collar” type club. They rarely had big name second division stars but what they did usually have were guys who worked their tales off, put team first and some of the very best (and most obnoxious) fans around.

    Here in “blue-collarlandia” we really appreciate Dudes who grind it out and demonstrate the afformentioned attributes.

    What can I tell ya? We are “nonsensical” that way.

    I loved cheering against Portland Timbers for the last six years at the second division level and I look forward to “hating” now that they are in MLS…

  17. This whole “blue-collar” nonsense is nothing but a synonym for cheap.

    And from the formation and style of play described, it sounds like they’re trying to emulate the Revs.


  18. Not on subject completely,

    but does anyone know of the TV contract they have for MLS.

    Portland’s USL games were all on Fox Sports NW. Hopefully that is the case again so we can watch them in Seattle.

    Same with the Whitecaps. Get Vancouver on CBC and we will be able to watch 1/3 of the MLS games local broadcasts every weekend in Seattle.

  19. The only players that are “automatically off-limits” are GA’s, players signed from the Academy, and players with no-trade contracts.

  20. An add on question, are there certain players that automatically off-limits, ie. do not need to be protected? Like academy players, homegrown, DPs, generation addidas? In the nfl, players often get a “franchise” tag that restricts their movement…

  21. seconded, if there was any crest that needed to be left alone, it was certainly Portland’s. The higher ups are conviced that bright computerized graphics are marketing gold. Maybe for arena football, but not this sport.

  22. I disagree that balance isn’t important in the expansion draft. It’s one of the only ways expansion teams have of building squad depth. While you nobody is expecting all-stars from the process, you need people that can fill in decently in a pinch at nearly every position. If you don’t get that in the expansion draft it severely limits your available options when it comes to targeting players in the MLS draft and via traditional signings because you have to focus on filling holes rather than drafting the best player.

  23. Let’s hope that the “best player available” comment was just typical GM-speak. “Balancing the squad” is nonsense. I recall previous expansion drafts where fans would say “oh, so and so aren’t going to be good–they didn’t draft a forward!”. And RSL seemed to have a fan consensus of having a great expansion draft (how did that work out?). Portland has a coach that likes a particular formation. The expansion draft isn’t very notable for producing starting players who end up being stars (though Seb Le Toux is a notable exception), it mostly produces trade bait and role players (or guys with young potential who might turn out to be players down the road).

    I think (unless it’s a player they can trade for a draft pick or money or someone else they want more), I think Portland shouldn’t pick the best player available. They have types of players they want, they have a scheme they want to play, they should look for guys that fit that scheme. They should also not forget that they’re either very lucky (unlikely with 2 teams picking over the same pool of talent) or very very bad if they have more than about 3 expansion picks as starters in 2011. So forget the idea of balance–you’re going to get your real players down the road via the draft, allocation $, free agent signings and trades. You can come out of the expansion draft with 10 defenders and it was a brilliant draft–if 6 of them make your squad and will stick around for 3-5 years and 2 others can be traded for draft picks. Balance is irrelevant in the expansion draft.


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