Timbers Get Ready For Drafts

Five MLS drafts in December and January will affect Portland roster
by Ray Marcham   |   Friday, November 07, 2014

Green Logs - a column on the Portland Timbers & the Portland soccer scene

As Gavin Wilkinson, Caleb Porter and the Portland Timbers staff start to develop plans for the 2015 roster, there will be more factors than usual in their decision making.

That’s because MLS will be having five separate player drafts over the next two months. Between the Chivas USA dispersal draft, the expansion draft for Orlando City and New York City FC, and the usual three drafts (Re-Entry, Waiver and SuperDraft), decisions on players will rely on more factors than on-field performance, or even how a contract still fits under the salary cap.

The Timbers do have an extra month to get ready, in theory, because of missing the playoffs. But Wilkinson and Porter probably have been discussing how to approach the drafts for a while.

First up is the Chivas USA dispersal draft, likely to be sometime in late November (an official date has yet to be set). This could be the trickiest one, because 1) it still isn’t known if Orlando City or NYCFC will be a part of it and 2) an exact draft order has yet to be determined. Figuring that Portland will be somewhere in the middle, players like Dan Kennedy and former Timber Andrew Jean-Baptiste will likely be gone. But someone like Danny Toia might be worth a look, if the Timbers decide to take a chance.

Just who will be available in the Chivas USA dispersal draft is also up in the air, as who will still be under contract or under loan deals won’t be known for a few weeks. One player who won’t be in the dispersal draft is Cubo Torres, a player that MLS seems to have special plans for.

After adding a player from the Goats, it’ll be time to decide who to leave unprotected for the expansion draft. If the rules are the same as when Montréal entered the league in 2012, then expect the Timbers to protect 11 players. Automatically protected in that draft (same rules as when Portland and Vancouver entered in 2011), were Generation Adidas players, designated “homegrown” players and Designated Players with no-trade clauses in their contracts.

If the rules stay the same, then Schillo Tshuma will be automatically protected as a Generation Adidas player, while Steven Evans would be protected as a homegrown player. Also figure that Diego Valeri, Liam Ridgewell and Fanendo Adi would be protected as DPs, as well. That leaves 11 spots remaining, with some interesting decisions to be made on who to protect and who to leave available for NYCFC & Orlando City to choose from.

One could expect a large chunk of protected players to be forwards and midfielders. That means decisions will need to be made about those in the back. How many defenders are protected? Do the Timbers protect Ricketts and Gleeson, or take a chance and expose one in hopes they aren’t taken? How many defensive midfielders are left unprotected? Those are some of the questions that the Timbers will have to answer before the December 10 expansion draft.

The expansion draft won’t be the only draft taking place on December 10. Sometime after the expansion draft ends, the MLS Waiver Draft will take place. Usually, not many are taken, but it will be on the Timbers’ radar as the day goes on.

Where Portland would likely be active again is the two days of the Re-Entry Draft. It was there that Steve Zakuani was taken last year, in hopes of being a fill-in as Rodney Wallace recovered from his knee injury. It may be a place where the Timbers could seek a defender to help add some depth in a troublesome position. Most action will likely happen on December 12, the first day of the Re-Entry Draft, but someone might come up on the second day, December 18, that may draw interest.

Once those are done, then much of the focus will be on the SuperDraft. That will be on January 15 in Philadelphia, and thanks to the trade that sent Danny Mwanga to Colorado, Portland will have the fifth pick in the first round. That’s a spot where someone could be drafted that could contribute right away, much like former Timbers U-23s defender Eric Miller, who was in the Montréal starting lineup often this season after being picked fifth by the Impact in the 2014 SuperDraft.

Somewhere in-between all of those drafts, there are trade windows on December 8, December 10-11 (after the expansion draft ends), December 12-17 (after Phase 1 of the Re-Entry Draft) and after December 18. There are also the combines, international scouting trips and contract decisions that will need to be made.

But those drafts…all of those drafts…will keep the Timbers front office very busy, right up until the last pick is made in Philadelphia.

NEXT UP: January 31 – Portland Timbers vs. Sporting Kansas City, Kino Sports Complex, North Stadium, Tucson, Ariz. 9:00 p.m. EST, TBA.


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Cascadia native and a fan for as long as he can remember, Ray was brought up on the old NASL. Learned to love MLS. Wanted to play like Clive Charles. Then like Tony Adams. Only dreams, of course.