Portland Timbers 'look to climb the mountain again' as preseason - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland Timbers 'look to climb the mountain again' as preseason begins

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It's only been six weeks since a new champion was crowned in Major League Soccer, but clubs are already hitting the training fields again.

One season after winning it all, the Timbers were home for the playoffs. Now, after a three-month break the players are back, packed up and ready to roll to training camp in Tucson.

"I feel empty because last season was tough for us," said Diego Chara.

From a short offseason to a rather long one.

"You dig a little deeper, you reflect a little more," said Coach Caleb Porter.

Mind and body regeneration for a Timbers club that was on a quest to become deeper and younger.

"When you succeed and you do what we did and win MLS Cup, sometimes you need a hard reset," said Porter.

Fifth year Head Coach Caleb Porter said the team is still in search of another designated player, a difference maker on the right wing as Lucas Melano is bank in Argentine, but the Timbers' core remains in tact.

"We've got to look to climb the mountain again. You realize the air is pretty thin up there," said Porter. "It's hard to breath and it's hard to stay there."

Darlington Nagbe is staying with the Timbers. The U.S. National Team player returns after flirting with a transfer to Celtic in Scotland.

"At the end of the day when everything was on the table, they made their offer, we were all in agreement that it wasn't the right thing to do," Porter said.

One of at least three new starters is defensive midfielder David Guzman to free up Nagbe to play on the left wing.

"That allows us to put Darlington in position to where he's able to produce goals. You look at last year at the winger position, we didn't get enough goal production," said Porter.

Coming back in the fold is winger Dairon Asprilla who was on loan for a year in Colombia.

"He seems very hungry to come back and is fully invested in the team. We know what he can do on the pitch and we have a need for what he can do on the pitch," said Porter.

Gone are the likes of Jack Jewsbury and Ned Grabavoy who have both retired to Portland's front office.

"I am going to use those guys to help mentor some of the young players informally or formally," said Porter.

Nat Borchers, Steven Taylor and Jermaine Taylor are no longer on the roster, leaving a new centerback pairing for captain Liam Ridgewell, who had his drunk driving case dropped around Christmas.

"I am obviously a big man, I can stand up to these sorts of things and take it on the chin and realize what happened and what went down and look towards the future," said Ridgewell.

PTFC simply needs to be better on the road. They were winless away from home in 2016.

"We need to be more focused and more motivated about getting points on the road," said Diego Valeri.

The Timbers will wear new primary home kits as the first of three home preseason matches is February 9, before the season kicks off March 3 with Minnesota United FC at Providence Park.

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