Vancouver 1 - Portland 0


Well, that was something.


Is there something to take from this game? I mean the Timbers looked slightly unprepared, the referee was incompetent for both sides, there was a catastrophic injury and the urinal troughs had a certain glint to them in the bathroom as to say, "this will probably be one of the only things that doesn't disappoint you tonight".


If there was one thing that the Timbers front office preached coming out of 2014 it was continuity and that is what the 2015 pre-season team had. It was the same continuity from the vast majority of 2014 where the Timbers showed well at possessing the ball, gave up some stupid free-kicks and then paid on a set piece goal with the goal scorer who beat one of the two members of a new centerback pairing in the air. I mean if the Timbers still had Kalif 'legacy' Alhassan on the roster I would be hard pressed to tell the differences between the two sides.


That said, this team is a work in progress, this game was part of the pre-season and many things can be corrected. The major talking point for this game is Ben Zemanski's crushing ACL injury which marks another player to have gone down on the turf at Providence Park. Certainly the good news is that the team will be experts at putting back together players with debilitating ACL/Leg injuries by now. The sad news is that the turf isn't going anywhere, and it will likely continue to gobble up players ACL's despite the most positive spin that people put out there. Granted the evidence against the grass carpet is anecdotal, but at some point the common Portland fan will just get tired of watching midfielders, forwards and centerbacks be carried off the field to not be seen again for 6 to 8 months. Then again, as said before, the turf is likely not going anywhere and people will debate the pro/con of playing surfaces until the sun expires and the earth goes cold. I mean Bright Dike hurt himself on every playing surface known to man, some people are just perpetually injured... Like Seattle Sounder Steve Zakuani.


Zemanski provided cover for Will Johnson and Diego Chara in 2014 while really exploding into proficient effect at the end of the 2014 season after Johnson's horrible leg break. He was looking quite adept before going down with a torn ACL against Vancouver and the team was clearly missing him in the middle of the field after his injury. When he left the field it was up to  Jack Jewsbury to ratchet up the intensity in midfield, which was a bit odd given that Jewsbury is a known commodity, this was the pre-season and the Timbers just drafted a rookie CDM that they could have thrown into the fray at that point or Michael Nanchoff or George Fochive. Granted this game had turned into rugby by this point and the referee was party to this madness, but this is what the pre-season is for, to test out players in difficult situations without the worry of affecting your league status.


The good news is that the very early preview of Adam Kwarasey showed quite well. He came off his line with confidence, played the ball with his feet and seems to be quick. He will need to be quick because as showed last night as the Timbers are slow.... Slow.... SLOw... SLOW at the centerback position and will need Kwarasey to push up in order to cover the space behind them if they wish to play a high line. Of course one game and 90 minutes do not a career make, so it will be interesting to watch Kwarasey as we go along.


I also watched Darlington Nagbe nearly exclusively after Gaston Fernandez was taken off the field. Nagbe took a mock position at the center of the pitch but then drifted out to the left leaving the middle open with only Jack Jewsbury to push up to collect the ball there. Granted this may have been a reaction to playing without a full 11 on the field, but Nagbe was not running the point completely after Fernandez left. A quick word on the two mentioned players. Neither Nagbe nor Gaston Fernandez is capable of replicating what Diego Valeri does, when healthy, and the team changes because of that. Whether Nagbe can learn to do so is something to be seen, with the Nagbe project going on year five now (this is not a surprise or a new statement). Valeri is a one of a kind talent and the Timbers miss him immensely in the middle of the field.


The Timbers generated one shot on goal during the game. Given that offense has been the shining light of the last two seasons for the Timbers and defense the problem, I would imagine that this will not necessarily be a season long problem. The give and go opportunities were not sharp, passes were missed and opportunities left hanging that should be taken during the season. However, without Valeri and Will Johnson at the start and now Ben Zemanski it remains to be seen if the Timbers can be as sharp offensively as they once were.


One thing to keep note of, the Timbers did not react well to the punishing physical style that Vancouver dished out. Granted it took the referee cocking it up to allow this to happen, but that will be something to keep note of as the season goes along as MLS referees are not exactly a shining light of adjudication.


Regardless of what happened at the CDM position after Zemanski went down, Wallace and Ridgewell both were sent off, and the Timbers lost the game on a header by former Timber Pa-Modou Kah who beat Ridgewell to score the winning goal. The Timbers move onto the next opponent, the Chicago Fire, on Wednesday at 7:30 pm. Hopefully something resembling a game of soccer will be played.

The Business of Money

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by john nyen 12 Comments


There are topics that you talk about in polite company, and there is the topic of money. No one typically likes to talk about money, especially how much their team has available to spend.


When Toronto FC purchased Jozy Altidore and Giovinco, the collected fans of Major League Soccer teams should not have been surprised. Toronto's ownership group is absolutely loaded financially. It came to mind that we don't always understand the owners of this expanding league. Here is the best that I could currently do with the information sources that I found on each team, notated.


In researching this piece, the most shocking item that I found is the sheer number of billionaires that own a stake in an Major League Soccer club. Plucky underdog in MLS is a multimillionaire. The norm is to be a billionaire.


There a 22 different ownership groups with AEG owning a share in both the Galaxy and the Dynamo, and Atlanta/LAFC accepted but fielding a team in a few years.


Out of these 22 different ownership groups 14 are backed financially by finances over a billion dollars. By that I mean that either the main financial backer, a partner in the ownership group, or the combined fortunes of those enlisted in the ownership group as listed in the official ownership list on are over a billion dollars. (You can find that list here,


More than that, there are other ownership groups that are more than likely billionaires; but unverifiable, currently, by my own research. Ownership groups like DC United and Real Salt Lake both look to tick the boxes of those in the upper echelon of finance. However the facts that I could find were inconclusive and thus they cannot officially be said as to whether they belong in the billionaires club of MLS.


In each section you will find a link to the best information that I could find. While I attempted to rely on verifiable trade magazines or newspapers, there were other online publications that I used.


The Billionaire Who Stands Alone:


New York City FC

Ownership Group: City Football Group


Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has a lot of money. His family has even more. With the Sheikh having a supposed 30 billion dollars and 600 billion in assets, that is all small potatoes compared to his family net worth of over 1 trillion dollars. Of course, it must be remembered that the 1 trillion dollar mark (or $1,000,000,000,000 if you wanted to see that written out) valuation was performed in 2008. One can imagine that the fortunes of the family have only increased in the past seven years.


Side Note: Yes, the Daily Mail.



Family Net Worth from 2008  -- The Telegraph

Sheik Mansour Financial Valuation -- The Daily Mail 2013


Forbes (whom I use extensively for their financials) do not include royals on their lists of soccer owning billionaires stating,


"Sheik  Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan,  Manchester City owner,  and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, PSG president, are not included in the list of the richest soccer club owners because Forbes does not value families or royal fortunes unless we can clearly see who owns the fortunes. For instance, the Qatari royal family is not on our list." -- Forbes 2013


The Billionaires:


LA Galaxy

Ownership Group: Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG)


Anschutz Entertainment Group owns a lot of things. They own so many things that they appear in this list twice, as sole owners of the LA Galaxy and partial owners of the Houston Dynamo. They also own a stake in the Stanley Cup Winning Los Angeles Kings, a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers, the building that the Lakers actually play in (The Staples Center), the stadium that the Galaxy play in (The Stub Hub Center),  the Hammarby football team and a various consortium of different sporting, entertainment and property opportunities the world over.


In 2012, at a point when Anschutz was potentially looking to divest Anschutz Entertainment, the valuation of the company was two to four billion dollars. This was considered a low estimate by the New York Times. The Forbes real time valuation of the finances of Phil Anschutz are currently stated as 10.3 billion dollars.



AEG Valuation - NY Times -- 2012

Anschutz Valuation - Forbes -- 2015


New England Revolution

Ownership Group: Kraft Soccer, LLC


Robert Kraft and the Kraft Group are most known in North America for the New England Patriots, and being confused with Kraft foods which are not the same company.  The Kraft Group are a conglomerate with vested interests from Foxborough to Tel Aviv.


The current valuation of Robert Kraft is set at 4.0 billion dollars. The Kraft Group reparted income is 3.55 billion per year.



Kraft Group Valuation - Forbes

Robert Kraft personal - Forbes


Colorado Rapids

Ownership Group: Kroenke Sports Enterprises


Stan Kroenke has a lot of money. You typically don't make a lot of money by spending more money than you make. By not spending a lot of money and owning sports teams you get Stan Kroenke.  Kroenke's group, KSE, owns the St Louis Rams, The Colorado Avalanche, The Colorado Rapids, The Denver Nuggets, as well as the largest share in Arsenal Football Club.


Stan Kroenke's personal fortune is set at the current value of 5.8 billion dollars.



Stan Kroenke's Financials - Forbes


New York Red Bull

Ownership Group: Red Bull Company Limited


Red Bull is going through a downturn, or at least a disinterest in their New York franchise. That seems to be the jist of the information that I read from the fans that write on the club utilizing the ever shady "sources" and "a person closely linked with the club". As it stands, while things may not be on the upswing for Red Bull New York, they still have quite a bit of money.


Co-Owner Dietrich Mateschitz is himself a billionaire at 9.8 billion dollars while the Yoovidhya family has assets in excess of 9.9 billion. Meanwhile the company valuation is set at $7.5 billion dollars with global sales of $6.7 billion dollars.



Dietrich Mateschitz Financials - Forbes

Yoovidhya Family Financials - Forbes

Red Bull Financials - Forbes


Seattle Sounders

Ownership Group: Joe Roth, Adrian Hanauer, Drew Carey and Paul Allen (Vulcan Sports and Entertainment)


The Sounders ownership group has a lot of money. With the backing of Vulcan Sports and Paul Allen, they exist as one of the richest ownership groups in the league only being surpassed by New York City FC and possibly Toronto FC.


Paul Allen is worth a cool 17 billion. Joe Roth is worth 700 million by himself and even minority business owner Drew Carey is worth at least 165 million dollars. This doesn't include the finances of Adrian Hanauer which are probably not enough to substantially move the needle of this ownership group upwards.



Paul Allen Financials - Forbes

Joe Roth Financials - The Richest

Drew Carey Financials - Business Insider - 2012


Toronto FC

Ownership Group: Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainmet


Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment isn't a new face on the block as they've been around as a company since 1931. The organization was founded by Conn Smythe which, if you happen to follow hockey, is kinda a big name in the game.


Eventually MLSE was taken private from being public and is now owned by two of the largest media companies in Canada in Rogers Communication and Bell Canada (as well as other shareholders since the two companies own 79.53% of the company). MLSE owns the  Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, The Air Canada Centre, as well as managing BMO Field.


The equity value of MLSE is $1.2 billion dollars. The enterprise value is $1.6 billion dollars

I will say that the simple numbers alone of MLSE don't tell the tale as you must consider the financial power of Rogers Communication and Bell Canada that exists behind the company. Rogers alone had revenues of 12.42 billion (CAD) in 2011 with a net income of 1.56 billion (CAD). Bell Canada had revenues of $19.49 billion in 2011 and a net income of 2.159 billion in 2010 (CAD). These are major corporations with major financial clout at their disposal.



MLSE Financials - The Globe And Mail - 2011


Vancouver Whitecaps

Ownership Group: Greg Kerfoot, Jeff Mallett, Steve Luczo and Steve Nash


Vancouver mark a group ownership eclipsing of a billion dollars. While it is sometimes difficult to pin down financials of people under the billion dollar mark, The Province was able to make an educated guess on the financials. Owner Jeff Mallet is already the principal owner of the San Francisco Giants, the principal investor in Derby County, and was part owner of the WPS (Women's Professional Soccer).


According to a Globe and Mail article, Mallet had a net worth of $805 million dollars in 2000 before the dot-com meltdown.


As the article says,

"One of his first post-Yahoo moves was buying a stake in the San Francisco Giants, then in the midst of a 48-year World Series drought. (Mallett had stashed away most of his money in "safe investments," but set aside a chunk to put into sports ventures and high-tech plays.) He'd also been keeping tabs on MLS from Silicon Valley since its debut in 1996; Yahoo had signed on as a league sponsor." - The Globe and Mail


Greg Kerfoot has been referenced as " the Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest because nobody has seen him" by a Southsiders president in a Globe and Mail article. Luczo made over $19 million dollars a year in 2013 just in his compensation package for Seagate, while Steve Nash chugs along with a rumored net worth of $95 million dollars.



Group Financials - The Province via

Steve Nash Financials - Celebrity Net Worth

Steve Luczo Financials - Forbes

Jeff Mallett Net Worth from 2000 - The Globe and Mail


FC Dallas

Ownership Group: Hunt Sports Group


Hunt Sports Group is one of the grandaddies in American Sports. Lamar Hunt single-handedly did more to spread the gospel of soccer in the United states than most people will ever actually know. He owned three Major League Soccer teams at the same time and financed the construction of Columbus Crew Stadium. He brought the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) into the league.


He owned the Dallas Tornados through multiple leagues during the NASL days. Hunt founded the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL. With Hunt Sports Group now divested of the Columbus Crew and Sporting KC, they still own a portion of the Chicago Bulls and the Kansas City Chiefs. Hunt Sports Group sold the Crew for $68 million dollars to Anthony Precourt in 2013.


Hunt Sports Group was valued at 1.3 billion in 2013.



Hunt Sports Group Financials - Dallas Morning News


San Jose Earthquakes

Ownership Group: John Fisher and Lew Wolff


Not much is known about how much money Lew Wolff has in his possession. There is plenty of speculation out there but no hard facts.


It is much easier when we come to John Fisher who is currently estimated to have $2.8 billion dollars.


However, the two run their sports franchises like a business as Wolff stated about the Oakland A's in 2014,

"Our business is run like any other business. We have very strict budgeting. The budget emanates from major league salary. That’s our major expense and we try to keep it at or below 50 percent of our projected revenue. Everything else flows from that." - Comcast Sports Net California



John Fisher Financials - Forbes


Houston Dynamo

Ownership Group: AEG, Golden Boy Productions and Brener International Group


Oscar De La Hoya and Gabriel Brener together invested in the Houston Dynamo and now own 50 percent of the club. AEG owns the other half. Brener and De La Hoya certainly contribute a hefty amount in the realm of a $350 to $500 million dollar investment, but it is, again, the 50% of the club owned by $2 to $4 billion dollar AEG that elevates this often financially overlooked franchise to super power status. They may not always get the love from AEG that the LA Galaxy do, but they do have all the possibilities of hefty financial backing.



AEG Valuation - NY Times -- 2012

Anschutz Valuation - Forbes -- 2015

Gabriel Brener Valuation - Celebrity Net Worth


Atlanta MLS

Ownership Group: AMB Group

Self made man Arthur Blank is the new kid on the block in Major League Soccer. The owner of the Atlanta Falcons and the co-founder of Home Depot has purchased a stake in Major League Soccer for a "Coming Soon" project. Blank's recent financial evaluation puts him at $2.4 billion dollars.



Arthur Blank - Forbes


Los Angeles Football Club

Ownership Group: 24 people


There's quite a few owners in Los Angeles Football Club. 24, at least as currently announced via their website. You have people such as Mia Hamm, Nomar Garciapara, Vincent Tan, Magic Johnson and Peter Guber. It's hard to try to aggregate all this information, I mean Vincent Tan alone has a net worth of $1.4 billion dollars and a really neat collection of high waist pants.


Howler Magazine (via writer Jake Cohen) attempted to put a handle on how much money the group would have available. At a base value we can estimate it as $4.5 billion dollars, but this is probably a very conservative estimate. Also, this original total was estimated when there were 22 partners, and there are now 24.



LAFC Financials - Howler Magazine via Forbes


Sporting Kansas City

Ownership Group: OnGoal, LLC


Sporting Kansas City completed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in regards to community relevance under the watchful eye of OnGoal LLC, recently. On Goal purchased the franchise from Hunt Sports Groups and proceeded to build them into an MLS Cup champion and perennial sell out in a gorgeous new facility.  In regards to their financials, I was able to find information on Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig.


Patterson's current net worth is valued at $1.7 billion dollars

Illig's current net worth is valued around $1 billion dollars.



Neal Patterson Financials - Forbes

Cliff Illig Financials - Forbes


The Multimillionaire:


Orlando City SC

Ownership Group: Orlando Sports Holdings, LLC

Brazilian Flavio Augusto da Silva, Stoke native Phil Rawlins and John Bonner run the new MLS team on the block, Orlando City SC. Augusto da Silva has his current wealth estimated at $446 million dollars while Rawlins is set at $40 to 60 million.



Flavio Agusuto da Silva Financials - Forbes

Phil Rawlins Financials Best Guess - SBNation Blog


The Unverifiable Rich:


DC United

Ownership Group: DC United Holdings


DC United's ownership financial capabilities are a bit tricky to pin down. There are articles that indicate that Thohir is a billionaire and then there are those that indicate no such thing.  An article by Il Gionro (linked here) indicates that Thohir has a value of $25 billion dollars. Bloomberg refers to him as "billionaire Erick Thohir" in an article on financials and Inter Milan.


Blog attempted to put this information together on Thohir with the same difficulty. It's tough to pin down exactly how much Thohir has, but it does appear that he very likely has enough capital between him and the other owners of DC United (Jason Levien and William Chang) to say that they belong in the billionaire category.



DC United Financial guesses - Black and Red United


Montreal Impact

Ownership Group: Free 2 Play Holdings


The Saputo's themselves are an immensely wealthy Canadian family. How much money of that Joey has access to is the major question.


Joey Saputo is the principal Investor-Operator of the Montreal Impact. The Saputo Family is the founder of Saputo, a major international dairy products company. Their current valuation is a $3.5 billion dollars (US) or $4.3 billion Canadian. Another article published on Gianluca Di Marzio indicated that Saputo's net worth is between $4 and 9 billion Euros however no indication is given whether or not that is just "lifted" from the financial worth of the Saputo Family Fortune.


As it is, the Saputo Family, Joey Saputo and the Montreal Impact are definitely linked as the Saputo family donated $7.5 million for the building of Saputo Stadium.



Saputo Family Financials - CTV Montreal News

Joey Saputo Rumored Financials - Gianluca Di


Philadelphia Union

Ownership Group: Keystone Sports and Entertainment, LLC


It can be a bit difficult to attempt to pin down Keystone Sports and Entertainment in the realm of finances. You have Jay Sugarman, whose personal fortune is seemingly tied into his stock holdings with iStar Financial. You have the Buccini borthers and Dave Pollin who run a property development company which includes major international properties and real estate holdings in excess of 3 billion dollars. And you have more other shareholders such as Weston Solutions and YSC-Graham Investments, as well as Joseph Greco and David Seltzer


In the end, it seems likely that Philadelphia Union is backed by possibly hundreds of million of dollars up to billions of dollars. Since none of the financial information on the web hit the required mark to indicate exactly what the Union has, their true financial state remains a mystery.



Information and guesses on the state of the Philadelphia Union Finances - Brotherly


Real Salt Lake

Ownership Group: Dell Loy Hansen


Not much can be said about the finances and business of Dell Loy Hansen other than he definitely has SOME money, but it is anyone's guess as to how much. A partner in Salt Lake for quite a while, Hansen eventually bought out owner Dave Checketts  to be the sole owner of Real Salt Lake. It's anyone's guess as to how this will translate in the long run for RSL, but this quote from the Salt Lake Tribune, "Hansen, a man whose soccer knowledge once came almost entirely from the book Soccernomics," shows the level of Hansen's knowledge when purchasing the full shares of Real Salt Lake.


As well, we know that recently


Dell Loy


The one thing that we are able to find is that Hansen's company, Wasatch Property Management, has a real estate portfolio of over 1.2 billion dollars.



Wasatch Property Management Financials - Salt Lake Tribune



The Unverifiable "Other":


Chicago Fire

Ownership Group: Andell Holdings, LLC


Well, this is what I found out about Andell Holdings.


Andell Holdings, LLC is a private equity firm specializing in growth capital, acquisitions, and mezzanine financings. It invests in middle markets and mature companies. The firm primarily invests in branded businesses; luxury goods; leisure or lifestyle; hospitality and travel; media and entertainment; marketing and distribution; food processing or manufacturing; wine and spirits; sports and promotion; and real estate. It generally makes investments in United States and Canada. 


Meanwhile searches for Andrew Hauptman vary between the irate blog posts about the owner of the Fire to an article in Architectural Digest talking about their 20,000 square foot house outside of Los Angeles. Hauptman's wife is Ellen Bronfman Hauptman, the daughter of Canadian billionaire Charles Bronfman and is an active partner in Andell Holdings.


I think it can clearly be said that Hauptman is wealthy. As to how much wealth? It is anyone's guess.



Charles Bronfman Finances - Forbes


Columbus Crew

Ownership Group: Precourt Sports Ventures LLC


Much like Andrew Hauptman, Anthony Precourt's finances are extremely hard to pin down. His father was a successful businessman and was the CEO of Tejas Gas Corporation as well as serving on the board of Halliburton. Meanwhile J. Anthony Precourt Jr's extremely limited bio says that he is a successful business man as well.


As to what Precourt Sports Ventures and Precourt Capital Management DO, how much they make and where Anthony Precourt made his money? Who knows.  Precourt Capital Management is typically listed as " an investment management and private equity investment firm based in San Francisco" in almost every description that the company receives.


The only thing I could really find is that Mr. J Anthony Precourt of Precourt Capital Management donated 5000 dollars to the Wyoming Refining Company Political Action Committee in 2009.


Portland Timbers

Ownership Group: Peregrine, LLC


Merrit Paulson is the son of former U.S. Treasury Secretary and former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Hank Paulson. The acquisition of the Timbers and the Portland Beavers happened in 2007 for the reported amount of $16 million dollars. The actual amount was undisclosed, it should be noted, however this $16 million number appears repeatedly in articles and magazines on the deal.


The acquisition was characterized thusly in a long form article on MLS written by Nick Firchau


"As Paulson’s business acumen grew he was also well aware he had a golden ticket in the form of his father’s fortune and faith, and that it would lead to something larger in the sports world. He says he was offered a “one-bullet deal,” where his father would financially back one large investment in a professional sports franchise, and that eventually led to a foray into Major League Soccer in 2005." - Nick Firchau, MLS


It's plain to see that if we evaluate the overall finances of the Timbers that we must take into account the backing of Hank Paulson, while understanding that as Merrit Paulson indicated, "He was offered a 'one-bullet deal' where his father would financially back one large investment in a professional sports franchise". If we look at it in that light, it is likely that while Hank Pauslon has backed Merrrit Paulson that Merrit is not able to just freely utilize the full amount that Hank has available, much like Joey Saputo and the Saputo family billions.



Hank Paulson Estimated Finances from 2006 - Forbes






As said at the beginning, there are 22 ownership groups in Major League Soccer and out of these 22 different ownership groups 14 are backed financially by finances over a billion dollars. For the eight teams that are difficult to verify, four are certainly backed by a decent amount of money (Montreal, DC United, Real Salt Lake, and Philadelphia) which leaves four teams (Portland, Chicago, Columbus, Orlando) that are towards the lower part of the financial spectrum in Major League Soccer.


However, this information above doesn't take into account current value for money and the ability of a team to make a profit against their current expenditures.


When Forbes ran an article on Major League Soccer's most valuable teams, the veil was lifted (at least with information from the 2012 season) on overall revenue and operating income for the teams. Based purely on the 2012 season, 10 clubs made a profit in 2012.


#1 Seattle

#2 LA Galaxy

#3 Portland Timbers

#4 Houston Dynamo

#5 Toronto FC

#6 Sporting Kansas City

#7 FC Dallas

#8 Montreal Impact

#9 Philadelphia Union

#10 New England Revolution



MLS Team Valuations - Forbes - 2013


Out of these 10 clubs, Seattle showed their earning potential making 18.2 million dollars for the 2012 season in profit. Portland was the next closest in terms of operating income with 9.4 million dollars. This information is taking into money after expenditures but before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.


What's interesting with these numbers is that if you believe the players union salary numbers that come from the MLS Players Union (which is in and of itself a contentious point) then the Portland Timbers in 2014 spent less money (roughly 5.2 million) in total base salary than they made in profit during the 2012 season. With ticket prices being raised and more seats added between the 2012 and 2015 season, the Timbers likely increased their revenue stream. As well, they added the Simple bank sponsorship for their warm up kits and signed a new sponsorship deal with Providence Health Care for the naming rights to the stadium. They, as well, renewed the Alaska Airlines sponsorship for the front of the Timbers uniform.


So while certainly Portland is one of the least financially backed teams in Major League Soccer, they are also simultaneously one of the few teams in Major League Soccer making a rather nice amount of profit off of the team.


At the end of the 2014 season, the Timbers base salary was 5.2 million dollars. This was during a season in which the Timbers had large amounts of allocation money for making the CONCACAF Champions league and a legitimate reason to run a larger squad.



This tableu and article from


Based on the finances above and the fact that the team will not be competing in the CCL, I would expect that the overall squad costs to decrease from the end of 2014, even if the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows for an increase to the MLS Salary cap.


Portland Timbers base salary totals for the beginning of the season for each season they played in Major League Soccer.

2014 - 3.7 million

2013 - 3.2 million

2012 - 4.16 million

2011 - 2.6 million


These numbers can change dramatically based upon the needs of the season as they did during 2015 when the Timbers desperately needed to fix their defense and they spent 1.5 million dollars on Liam Ridgewell.


So the Timbers sit in a very weird position. On one hand, the marquee name players are simply out of their reach, for the most part. They almost certainly cannot outbid Toronto FC, LA Galaxy, NYCFC for a certain type of player which, despite the best intentions of Major League Soccer, is seemingly how name brand marquee players are assigned in the league. As well, despite the love that a fan might have for their city, Portland is not New York City or Los Angeles in the eyes of the international player.


On the other hand, the Timbers are turning a profit after expenditures and have the ability to increase player spending when the total amount of their profit from 2012 ($9.4 million dollars) almost exceeded the total players salaries from the start of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 season combined (9.96 million dollars).


How do the Timbers move forward into a league that is fighting against the players for control of Free Agency?


If we look at the idea of Southampton FC as an example. The academy of Southampton has allowed the team to be financially relevant and competitive, in recent times, in the hyper-moneyed Barclay's Premier League despite Southampton not being a destination city or club.


While servicing a tiny area of England, the academy has turned out players such as Gareth Bale, Wayne Bridge, Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott, Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamerblain, and Adam Lallana. The sale of Shaw, Lallana and Chambers brought in over $45 million dollars. As well, with creative scouting and appropriate player acquisitions, the club has been able to acquire value at needed positions with players that aren't necessarily name brand. They utilize these players (see: Dejan Lovren) and sell them on with great value to other teams ( see: Liverpool).


The way forward for the Timbers, given their league financial standing, is extremely careful scouting, avoiding rash decisions with front office moves. and creating talent from within to generate both good play and financial stability with the club. Certainly the implementation of the T2 USL side will allow the team to see the talent they have available at a lower level, however it is from the academy system that the Timbers must excel. They must find a way to identify and develop young soccer talent that can be then brought up to the senior squad..


The short and long term view of the Timbers finances indicates that unless Merritt Paulson takes on an additional financial backer, that the Timbers have already been lapped many times over in the financial "space race" of Major League Soccer. As of right now, the Timbers (as shown above) are very clearly behind at least 14 other teams in the league in terms of financial backing.


However, they are also one of the most valuable clubs due to the patronage of their fanbase and their current sponsorship appeal. The worry for Timbers fans is that the team has yet to develop a player from the ground up that has made an impact on the senior team. The counter argument to that is that the Timbers Academy has only recently been active.


However you see the academy argument the Timbers currently do not have a single homegrown player on their roster for the 2015 season. The Timbers must be better at building talent from within if they expect to have a source of income and talent to challenge the upper echelon of MLS.


Before Major League Soccer transitions even further into the inevitable free for all that is is trending towards, the Portland Timbers must have a plan of attack that allows them to win.


Posted on: January 14th, 2015 by john nyen 2 Comments


Can you feel it? Do you remember?


The first time you walked through that entrance.


The first time you touched the same walls that Timbers fans have walked past for 40 years.


The echoes of voices from the tunnel walls.


The rhythm of the drums.

The blare of the horns.


That jolt of nervous adrenaline that fuels a late night before the first real game of the season.


The syncopated beats of Timbers Samba.


The feeling of seats against the back of your legs.


The stinging scent of smoke sent wafting into the air.

The feeling of hugging people you don't know when a ball hit a net.


That moment when the stars align, the ball flicks around from foot to foot with every ease in the world.


The time where you forget your inhibitions and sing, or dance, or just shout in desperation or exaltation.


The time when people came together after a crushing loss and chanted for the club throughout the victory celebration of the other team.



That time when the captain served up a piece of revenge at home during the playoffs.



PT-FC isn't just a chant performed when the team walks out, it is the booming heartbeat of the fans and supporters that exists throughout good times and bad. It exists independent of league, ownership, or management. It exists because the fans will it to be, as though the chanting of the letters PT-FC breathe all the will and energy of the gathered crowd into the eleven that emerge into the stadium dressed in Timbers green.


It's almost here again.


The game. The heights. The love. The passion. The soccer. The futbol.












Posted on: January 13th, 2015 by john nyen 1 Comment




To the amazing, list of all lists. The list that makes you think, WOW, I totally need more lists in my life. The list that makes you print it out, read it on the toilet, and then punch a mime on your way to the coffee house.




Here, in a very particular order are the draft prospects coming out of college that are the best.




Yeah, that guy. Man is he great. He plays really well at that one position and everyone seems to think he will go #1. Well, here at the Axe we watch REAMS of college soccer. I mean we are up until 5:00 am with babies, and that's all you do with babies is watch college soccer. I mean, that's why at least 2 of us GOT babies, is for the college soccer. So we have totally... completely... utterly watched this guy play and he looks like a winner. (until he gets cut from the team right before the season and ends up bouncing around an NASL team for a few months, and then settling into a nice long career as a sports agent and financial advisor who rampantly tweets about the game.)   We here at "The Axe Worldwide Headquarters" are no strangers to finding the hot position and jumping on it with both feet, so in light of that.... We are totally picking the guy that everyone else is picking to be #1 as #1.




Well, he isn't exactly in the same class as that first guy, but he is ok. He's probably a strong central defensive midfielder, from... Is it creighton? He has the skills but somehow they don't come together. I learned about this from his dossier and from another writer who watched 5 minutes of his play from a youtube stream that his little brother put together in between a World Of Warcraft raid.




He's from San Diego State, he's only played 3 years of soccer after switching over from rollerblading and being a DJ on the side. He was spotted by a pro talent scout on the Venice boardwalk when he was taking a trip there to visit a Taco Bell factory. Chances are high that he will have a decent half season and over value himself forcing a contract renegotiation whereupon he gets dumped out of the league and ends up playing for a division two team in Slovakia.


I watched him play at least 5 minutes at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports skills tournament and Real World Reunion show.




Oh, you know that guy right? You read something about him in the paper a few years ago? Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? I mean, I'm not saying that getting busted for smuggling marijuana through the anus of a donkey is a valid or invalid crime, I'm just saying that he fell a few draft spots when campus police noticed a freshman hanging from his underwear outside the window of his dorm and found his BVD's stuffed with cheetos.


Or something.


I mean, who knows... after all, his brothers kid friends nephew posts on Big Soccer and says the kid is a legit A+ centerback and fuck, the team really needs him and plus.... I edited together a highlight video of his using the soundtrack to Gladiator.



He's a goalkeeper. He's 6 foot 9. He played basketball in Serbia. He's French and Korean. He's got a 400 foot wingspan. He's got the scoring prowess of Peter Crouch, the lovemaking tendencies of James Joyce, and the literacy of Miley Cyrus. WHAT A CATCH.


There's a video of him singing Winger songs Karaoke whilst wearing a mustache. It's great. Primarily, it will turn out, the Union started scouting him because he is a baritone and they need to fill out their sound.




CANT MISS PROSPECT. Look, I know what you are thinking, he sat a lot on the bench, but look at this video from three years ago. ELECTRIC. This kid has the goods, and how he ended up at the six spot is fascinating. I'm telling you, whether attitude issues or physical issues, I bet this kid can overcome it. Wow. Looks like the Timbers are really interested in him.




Just needs a strong role model figure. I mean, I don't know him, I don't know his coach, I don't know why he was sentenced to 400 hours of community service, but he came from a really dangerous area of Lake Oswego and... well.. man, that kid just needs a chance. Imagine him with a good strong moral centerback partner. Well, no I mean.. not like his CURRENT one, that didn't work out. I mean they started breaking mailboxes at 3:am, but that was all just a plant job.


He just needs a new start and a strong, disciplinarian coach to bring out the best in him. I mean other than the strong, disciplinarian coach that already failed with him, but that is totally different.




Sure he sat on the bench the last two seasons, but did you see his team play without him! I mean they went to the finals of the Inter-TOTO College World Cup and Quidditch Tournament in Seattle! They were amazing, and they set all kinds of scoring records according to the coverage in the local college newspaper. I would have watched the "Inter-TOTO College World Cup and Quidditch Tournament" on ESPN3 but I'm against cross branding sports #AgainstModernFootball so I'll just take the word of the reporter that actually happened to be on site and spent a good 30 minutes scouting this guys team before heading over to get some fresh cold cuts from the free meat tray outside the port-o-john on the field. THIS KID IS A WINNER PART OF A WINNER.




Well he's a decent fullback, he can use both feet and he can play defensive midfielder if you need him to. He has one youtube video, the music is creed, and it's mostly shaky footage shot from field level of high school games where he looks decidedly unsexy even there. He has zero flash moves, hates anything that resembles step overs or tricks and generally thinks that the best thing a player can do is to shield the ball from attack and shuttle it away.


And even that I only got because his facebook profile is open online, and I pulled all this information from his current status


Stupid unsexy utility players. NEXT.




He's really good. He's five foot five. He played for a no name highschool before walking onto his college team and then playing lights out while becoming a starter in his final year. His ability is otherworldly on the ball. I learned all this because his good friend and assistant coach are on twitter and HE says that this kid would go #1 if there was a college draft in Europe. Supposedly he would fit right into a game with Barcelona.   But.   Since he isn't 6 foot 2 and 200 pounds he will probably get dropped from the team right before they make the cuts to the full roster. He can then resurrect his career in the MISL, followed by USL followed by a low level team in Liga MX!


And that's the




Please utilize this information to brutalize all your friends and neighbors with the fountains of knowledge within, truly letting them know that there is only one winner on the internet that knows about College Soccer and that is you, dear friend!   TOODLES!

Changing the Narrative: Altidore

Posted on: January 12th, 2015 by john nyen 1 Comment


So the plucky Timbers were again, potentially, foiled by the Major League Soccer front office, right?


Well, probably not.


See, to me, there's been an issue when it comes to analyzing the Timbers and the way in which the front office of the Timbers interacts with the front office of MLS. Fans like to portray this as an adversarial relationship, and "MLS v Portland Timbers" may be adversarial for the fans. It appears that many people think that Major League Soccer are keeping the Timbers from signing players, or even having the ability to sign players.


However, there really haven't been any indications, at least publicly, that the Timbers have had a problem with the way that Major League Soccer and Don Garber conduct business.


(At least when we ignore the Paulson comments about Major League Soccer referees)


As a matter of fact, on most things with regards to player acquisitions Mr. Paulson has been very warm and accommodating of the league position.




Certainly when it comes to "behind the scenes" machinations we are left in the dark. However, when it comes the MLS Front Office, the Timbers front office (publicly) seems to operate in synchronicity with their league counterpart.


Merritt Paulson is an owner investor who publicly has agreed with many of the decisions of Major League Soccer. After all, Paulson may have missed out on acquiring Dempsey, but the Timbers weren't willing to pay what the player wanted, and the league really wanted Dempsey playing for a team in MLS, so the Timbers were left wanting. More on this later.


When it comes to the Mix Diskerud saga, we see the blame distributed around all parties. Some of the press blamed Paulson not wanting to pay Diskerud, while some blamed his agent/father, while Diskerud blamed the league itself in this quote from a article.


"In MLS, you have a group of owners that collectively have ruled it unacceptable for example for people like me to join one specific MLS team only, and with a right to continue a career in Europe after let's say three years depending on the player's choice," - Mikkel Diskerud to


When it comes to the Altidore saga, it is seemingly the Timbers making a public play for a forward that wants a bunch of money to come back into the league from which he started. It is entirely possible that the play for Altidore wasn't a "Timbers passionately need Altidore" but rather a "Altidore's available, lets try for him and see what happens" move, but of course we aren't privy to the motivations of the front office from that standpoint.


Paulson, during an earlier Facebook Q&A, stated that the Front Office of the Timbers had a fund for purchasing players up to 5 million with a possibility of more with approval. It is entirely possible that the Timbers made a play for Altidore up to a certain dollar amount before (it is rumored) bowing out due to not being able to meet his financial demands. There is an argument, as well, that if Altidore goes through allocation that perhaps the Timbers didn't want to make the necessary sacrifice to get the correct allocation ranking to pick him up. Therefore, the team isn't getting screwed by the league, but rather Paulson simply may have not wanted to pay for Altidore and MLS (in their infinite wisdom) decided to follow the old/new/old rules on allocating players in order to fit the narrative of Altidore being allocated to one of the only teams in the league that can afford him.




When asked about the Frank Lampard situation (which involved NYCFC and MLS promoting a player not under contract with the league or team to sell season tickets, and then sweeping under the rug the official status of the player for months) Paulson responded.




Once again, New York City FC sold tickets, kits and basic fandom on the promise that a player (that was not under contract with them) was signed (which he wasn't).


We must remind ourselves of the organizational structure of Major League Soccer. That is that Major League Soccer is a single entity league and that the teams are part of the league, the trademarks are owned by the league with owner operator investors (like Paulson) running the vagaries of the team.


This single entity structure has already been challenged in the past with a lawsuit, Fraser v Major League Soccer, being decided back in 2002

The case text states,"




Now this is information from Fraser v MLS, a case that was contested before the implementation of the Designated Player rule (which was instituted in 2007). However, the general mode in which Major League Soccer operates can be glimpsed from that statement, and the fact that the owner operators are shareholders in the league, not just with their team, is one of the binding facts that the fan tends to ignore. Major League Soccer states this from their "about" page.




"The operators own a financial stake in the league, not just their individual team."


This is why you won't see too much of a stink raised by any of the owner operators in Major League Soccer about the way in which their league does business. Sure Paulson and the Timbers may miss out on picking up Altidore, but having the USMNT forward in Major League Soccer boosts Peregrine LLC's bottom line. Sure the Timbers may miss out on Clint Dempsey, but they didn't want to pay for him, the league really wanted to have him signed and Paulson knows that a rising tide should lift all boats, financially, within the confines of being an owner operator investor in Major League Soccer.


When a fan complains about Don Garber (and there is plenty to complain about) they tend to forget that Garber is not solely responsible for the current state of Major League Soccer.


If you are upset about transparency and the direction of the league, then you should start being vocal with people like Merritt Paulson, Dell Loy Hansen, Joe Roth, Robert Kraft, and Anthony Precourt as well as Don Garber and Mark Abbot.  Because the seemingly amorphous league accountability structure allows them to blame the current hot button, rage inducing item (For example: Does Allocation Order actually exist) on the centralized/de-centralized "NECESSARY NON-TRANSPARENT SINGLE ENTITY LEAGUE MANAGEMENT", when the owners themselves are part of the league management structure.


All rules on competition, player signings, and allocation within the Major League Soccer purview are overseen by the ownership investors and board of Major League Soccer (to which the owners belong). The owner operators don't want to fix the structure of the rules, because it benefits them to have the league be vague in many regards.


Merritt Paulson illuminated some of this during his Facebook Q&A:




It is worth stating, again, that the owner operators of Major League Soccer are among the ones who can push to illuminate and fix the issues with regards to competition rules. That the owners are among the ones that implement and understand player signing rules. The choices that the fan often sees at the late stage when a bizarre trade or acquisition happens is something that the owner of a team has understood for 6 months to a year.


So it comes back around to say that if you are upset at the transparency of the league, of the seemingly bizarre interpretation of the rules within the league, or the players that your team is attempting (and failing) to acquire, you must remember that some of the questions must be put to the ownership of the team that you support as well as the executives like Don Garber and Mark Abbot because they are themselves directly involved with the sometimes baffling decisions of Major League Soccer.


Know Your MLS Assistant

Posted on: January 6th, 2015 by john nyen 2 Comments


With rumors circulating in New York of Robin Fraser's imminent departure from the delicate folds of Mike Petke's sweater vest, it begs the question. Assistant coaches, who are they?


After the hire of Mike Petke, the Red Bull management team decided to give Petke some help by supposedly trying to hire Claudio Reyna. When he turned them down they decided to give Petke some help by hiring Fraser, who managed to survive the Chivas USA dumpster fire with his resume mostly intact.


Fraser was an assistant coach with Real Salt Lake during the formidable Kreis era and helped guide the team to MLS Cup in 2009 before leaving for his own head coaching position in 2010 with the "We Don't Talk About Them" Chivas USA side from 2011-2012.  After serving his penance in LA, Fraser moved to RBNY where he worked with Petke to win the supporters shield in 2013 and make it to the semifinals of MLS Cup.


So it begs the question. Who are the coaches for the Timbers in 2015?


We start with the man in charge:


Caleb Porter

HIRED: Late 2012


PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - Indiana University, Head coach of Akron Zips, Head coach of USA U-23


Sean McAuley

HIRED: Mid 2012


PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Sheffield Wednesday Academy (2005-2012), Two small caretaker stints as manager for the first team in 2006 and 2009


Cameron Knowles

HIRED: 2012




Jay Vidovich

HIRED: 2014

FIRST SEASON: 2015 (as head coach of T2 and unspecified assistant duties to Timbers)

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - Denver University, Assistant - Regis College, Assistant - Ohio Wesleyan, Assistant - Wake Forest, Head Coach of Wake Forest


As you can see with the resumes, Vidovich is possibly the most experienced coaching hire the Timbers have had in the last 4 MLS seasons and quite possibly one of the most experienced hires of the last 8 years. Although, it remains to be seen how much input and work he has with the senior squad.


Lets now take a quick look at other coaches around the league starting with the MLS Cup champions, LA Galaxy.


LA Galaxy:


Bruce Arena

HIRED:  2008

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE:  Assistant - Cornell University, Head Coach of University of Puget Sound, Assistant - University of Virginia, Head Coach of USA U-23, Head Coach of DC United, Head Coach of United States, Head Coach of New York Red Bull, Head coach of LA Galaxy.


Dave Sarachan

HIRED: 2008

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - University of Rochester, Assistant - Cornell University, Assistant Virginia, Head coach of Cornell University, Assistant - DC United, Assistant - United States, Head Coach of Chicago Fire, Assistant of LA Galaxy


Curt Onalfo

HIRED: 2011

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - DC United, Interim Head Coach DC United, Assistant - USA U-23, Assistant - United States, Head Coach of Kansas City Wizards, Head Coach of DC United


Pat Noonan

HIRED: 2013



Kenny Arena

HIRED: 2014

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - Virginia, Assistant - George Mason, Assistant - UCLA, Head Coach of FIU


Sarachan and Arena were hired the same day in 2008 and were previously employed together at three separate stops with Sarachan as Arena's assistant at Virginia, DC, and the United States national team.


How about the other finalist in MLS Cup?


New England Revolution


Jay Heaps

HIRED: 2012



Tom Soehn

HIRED: 2014

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - Chicago Fire, Assistant - DC United, Head Coach of DC United, Interim Head Coach of Vancouver Whitecaps


How about the staff of that fishing village up north?


Seattle Sounders


Sigi Schmid

HIRED: 2009

PREVIOUS MANGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Head coach of UCLA, Head coach of US U-20, Head Coach of LA Galaxy, Head Coach of US U-20, Head Coach of Columbus Crew


Brian Schmetzer

HIRED: 2002

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - Tacoma Stars, Assistant - SeaDogs, Previous Manager of Seattle Sounders before Schmid's appointment


Ezra Hendrickson

Hired: 2009



Kurt Schmid

HIRED: 2009

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - St Mary's, Assistant - UC Irvine


How about the MLS Cup winner from 2013?


Sporting Kansas City


Peter Vermes

HIRED: 2009



Kerry Zavagnin

HIRED: 2009



Zoran Savic

HIRED: Late 2009

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Head coach of Kansas City Attack, Head coach of Kansas City Comets, Assistant - Chivas USA


John Pascarella

HIRED: 2009

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - Maryland, Head coach Northern Virginia Royals (Goal Keeper coach and converted to assistant in 2011)


And lastly, How about the aforementioned team branded from New York.


New York Red Bull


Mike Petke

HIRED: 2013



Robin Fraser

HIRED: 2013

PREVIOUS MANGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - Real Salt Lake, Head Coach of Chivas USA,


Porter remains one of the odd ducks in MLS for being hired after the majority of his assistants and technical staff. Certainly Schmid was hired after Schmetzer, however Schmetzer (as Timbers fans should know) was the head coach of the USL Sounders and a figurehead in Seattle before making way for Schmid during the Sounders MLS reboot. All the other staff were brought on by Schmid after his hire.


For Timbers fans it will be an interesting sub-plot to keep track of the involvement with Vidovich and the senior team.

Is it too early to party?

Posted on: December 10th, 2014 by sunshine 13 Comments


Monday the Timbers kept the thirsty among us glued to the internet as they announced several key moves every 15 minutes. It was so well planned that as they finalized their morning even the more skeptical among us followed the trail of pebbles to the water and we drank. It all seemed too good to be true—Kah was declined, Kalif was declined, Nat Borchers was introduced, another Colombian  who seems to have all the ingredients Kalif never possessed was brought in to add width, pace and power, and to top it all off Ricketts was replaced with a young, World Cup keeper.



It is promising to learn that the manager now understands that MLS quality defenders are needed to tighten the defensive areas that have been so lose in the past. The moves for Nat Borchers and Adam Larsen Kwarasey—say that name fast 5 times—round out the club’s search for a solid defensive corps that began when they brought in Liam Rdigewell.

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