The Business of Money

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by john nyen 8 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 MLSSoccer.com are over a billion dollars. (You can find that list here, http://pressbox.mlssoccer.com/content/about-major-league-soccer)

 

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.

 

Sources:

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.

 

Sources:

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.

 

Sources:

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.

 

Source:

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.

 

Sources:

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.

 

Sources:

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.

 

Source:

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.

 

Sources:

Group Financials - The Province via Canada.com

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.

 

Source:

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

 

Source:

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.

 

Sources:

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.

 

Source:

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.

 

Source:

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.

 

Source:

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.

 

Sources:

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 BlackandRedUnited.com 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.

 

Source:

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.

 

Sources:

Saputo Family Financials - CTV Montreal News

Joey Saputo Rumored Financials - Gianluca Di Marizio.com

 

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.

 

Source:

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

 

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.

 

Source:

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.

 

Sources:

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 Soccer.com 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 Soccer.com

 

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.

 

Source:

Hank Paulson Estimated Finances from 2006 - Forbes

 

 

 

TOTALS:

 

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

 

Source:

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.

 

Source:

This tableu and article from stathunting.com

 

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.

Soon

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.

 

PT

--

FC

 

..

 

PT

--

FC

THE AXE MEGA-DRAFT RANKINGS, FOR YOUR MIND.

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

 

WELCOME.

 

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.

 

It'S The MLS MEGA-DRAFT PLAYER RANKINGS AND STUFF, FOR YOUR MIND

 

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

 

#1: THAT GUY THAT EVERYONE ELSE IS PICKING

 

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.

 

#2: THE GUY THAT ISN'T QUITE AS GOOD 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.

 

#3: THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH

 

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.

 

#4: THE GUY THAT DROPPED TOO MANY POSITIONS FOR SOMETHING 

 

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.

 

#5: THE GUY THAT NO ONE KNOWS BUT THE UNION HAVE SCOUTED HIM

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.

 

#6: THE GUY WHO BLEW OUT HIS ACL BUT DIDN'T TELL HIS COACH

 

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.

 

#7: THE GUY WITH THE "ATTITUDE" ISSUES

 

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.

 

#8: THE GUY WHO PLAYS FOR A MORE PRESTIGIOUS COLLEGE THAN #9

 

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.

 

#9: THE DECIDEDLY UNSEXY PICK THAT WILL HAVE A LONG CAREER

 

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.

 

#10: THE TACTICAL KID WHO IS AMAZING BUT WONT MAKE IT IN MLS

 

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

 

AXE MLS DRAFT RANKINGS!

 

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.

 

MPonCD

 

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 Goal.com 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 Goal.com

 

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.

 

MPonPickup

 

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.

 

MPonLampard

 

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 http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-1st-circuit/1441684.html

The case text states,"

 

FVMLS

 

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.

 

MLSInvestors

 

"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:

 

MPonMLSRules

 

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

FIRST SEASON: 2013

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

 

Sean McAuley

HIRED: Mid 2012

FIRST SEASON: 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

FIRST SEASON: 2012

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: none

 

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

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: none

 

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

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: none

 

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

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: none

 

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

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: none

 

Kerry Zavagnin

HIRED: 2009

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: none

 

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

PREVIOUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE: Assistant - New York Red Bull

 

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.

... Read More →

Live From Stumptown, It’s Monday

Posted on: December 8th, 2014 by john nyen 11 Comments

 

No alliteration here. We here at The Axe (and by we, I mean me) will keep a running update today of all the casulaties from the Timbers Monday "We need stability" trade announcements.

First Up:

 

8:00 AM

 

Fullback and Vince Neil coverband member Michael Harrington sent from the Timbers to Colorado for Al O'Cation Money, the least visible and most frustrating Timber who has been lost and re-acquired nearly 4000 times since 2011.

 

8:18 AM

 

Timbers Acquire  Ghanaian international goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey to  the team thus bringing to light the following scenarios

 

#1 A young promising international goalkeeper

#2 A young promising international goalkeeper from a league that is difficult to scout or see players perform

#3  A young promising international goalkeeper from a league that is difficult to scout or see players perform who played with at least two members of the team.

#4 A young promising international goalkeeper from a league that is difficult to scout or see players perform who played with at least two members of the team who is from two countries (Norway by way of Ghanian heritage) that the Timbers have used before in USL and MLS

 

If you are keeping track this is the center square of Gavin Wilkinson Bingo

 

Welcome Adam to the PTFC and someone start the Vespa for Andrew Weber.

 

8:28 AM

 

NO WORD YET ON KALIF.

 

It sound like the purported transfer of millions of millions from somewhere in La Liga have not yet materialized. We will be keeping track of this rumored proposal as time ticks onward. Meanwhile, I transfer listed Kalif in FIFA 2012 again, for funsies.... yet I got three offers on Peter Lowry. Possibly for his twitter references. #SocialMediaGameOnPoint

 

 8:30 AM

 

Timbers sign Colombian forward/winger Diaron Aspirlla.

 

Aspirlla is 22 going on 23 and would appear to be taking the place of Steve "Seattle Sounders are my favorite team and I didn't play defense for them either" Zakuani.

 

 

Update: According to the press release from Timbers FC "Playing primarily as a right winger," which should cause everyone to unreasonably freak out about the future of Darlington Nagbe.

 

Clearly this "playing as a right winger" means that he will not be the replacement for Zakuani, but the whole "playing" thing should have tipped you off to that fact.

 

ZING!

 

 8:38 AM

 

I just frantically called Real Madrid to verify any Kalif to them rumors, they responded with a "Who" and hung up. I then called Marca and planned a rumor about his potential while indicating that Pele said he was "The item of the future" without informing them that Pele was talking about a chicken sub from Subway.

 

 8:42 AM

 

We here at The Axe would like to remind you that Billy Beane is a nob and moneyball is reliant on your scouting and signing team being better than nearly every other team in the league at identifying value otherwise you end up with inconsistent years where talent doesn't perform like you expected. I'd also like to remind you of Kris Boyd, Kevin Goldthwaite, Jeremy Hall, Kosuke Kimura, and the backloaded contract to Pa Kah.*

 

*(Note: This is the opinion of one man only and should not be taken as a statement from The Axe in total)

 

8:45 AM

 

Timbers sign 33 going on 34 year old Nat Borchers. Borchers is apparently a clean shaven lad from somewhere in Ut-Ah.

 

All kidding aside, Borchers is insanely durable although his overall effectiveness was greatly reduced last season in the air and on the ground. It is worth noting that a 45 year old Borchers is still better than McKenzie, O'Rourke and Kah. Welcome Nat!

 

Borchers will hopefully have a one/two year career revival at PTFC ala Will Johnson.

 

Check out Borchers statistics for Games Played.

 

Borchers

 8:52 AM

 

STILL NO WORD ON KALIF.

#KalifWatch2014

#KalifOnVacation

#KalifOhKalif

 

8:54 AM

 

I have been informed that Asprilla has two feet. Rumor is that he will be donating his left to Darlington Nagbe in return for some locally made gluten free chocolate and a tall bike.

 

8:57 AM

 

The Rumors of Kalif being traded for a 10 sided die are, apparently, false.

The Portland guild of Dungeons and Dragons supporters apparently could not be swayed by velvet capes and canes made of unobtanium.

 

9:00 AM

 

Well, nothing happened exactly at 9:00 so lets talk about how much better Borchers is than the other options the Timbers had last season. By an order of Magnitude, Borchers is the King Burrito to Kah's Acupulco's Gold.

 

 9:04 AM

 

Alvas Powell is still on the Timbers roster but now as a Timbers player. Hopefully this is the Alvas Powell of late 2014 and not the Alvas Powell of early 2014.

 

Still Powell has upside in bags, all supporters should just wish that his game experience and mental game were as strong as his legs and lungs, at times.

 

9:07 AM

 

I just emailed the tweed party for their take on the Kalif situation.

Honestly, it sounded like they were just having too much fun looking for vintage tall bikes and picnic blankets.

 

9:15 AM

 

WHO NEEDS COFFEE

 

THRUMP THRUMP THRUMP THRUMP.

 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

 

9:16 AM

 

And we're back!

 

Timbers sign Brazilian defender Jeanderson Salvador Pereira. 

 

9:17 AM

Pereira appears to be a 23 year old left back

 

 

9:20 AM

 

Hyperbolic reaction of the day: Brazilians are FANTASTIC defensively.

 

Real Reaction: I've never heard of this player and I have no idea if he will be good or not, but hopefully he plays more games than Kerrea Gilbert.

 

9:25 AM

 

I just mainlined some Pop Rocks and yelled at a squirrel for not making the right pass.

 

LETS GET THE ROSTER CUTS GOING.

 

9:26 AM

 

9:29 AM

 

Perhaps if Jeanderson's career doesn't pan out he can take up a position on Timbers in 30 with Gregor.

 

9:30 AM

 

It's time for that slow jam of notifying the players as they drop their kids off to school of them not returning to the team.

 

The Timbers declined the 2015 contract options on midfielders Kalif Alhassan and Steven Evans, and defenders Bryan Gallego and Pa Modou Kah. Alhassan is eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft. Additionally, the club announced that forward Jose Valencia was sold to Argentina’s Club Olimpo Bahía Blanca, while Evans has signed a contract with T2.

Defenders Rauwshan McKenzie and Danny O’Rourke are out of contract and have not been extended bona fide offers. Both players will be eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft.

 

9:32 AM

 

It happened? Where was Getafe?

 

9:33 AM

 

The Timbers finally announce Trencito's departure and dump the heaving beat of the dumpster fire of the Timbers defense in the 2014 season by dismantling O'Rourke, McKenzie, and Kah from the roster.

 

It is certainly sad to see that Gallego didn't pan out for the team as they expended a player (Kimura) and a draft pick to acquire the talent from Akron.

 

9:34 AM

Other than the list of protected players for the draft, many mysteries from the PTFC offseason have been illuminated. The interesting thing will be, as usual, to see if the elements selected can coalesce into something that resembles a team. The talent has been updated at the centerback position, but no one can honestly say what they expect from the new fullback acquisition or whether Kwarasey will be an upgrade at the goalkeeping position over Ricketts.

 

As usual, we wait for the games to be played in order to see how the defense comes together and how the team reacts. Hopefully the loss of Kah and McKenzie will themselves be an addition by subtraction.

 

10:00 AM

 

From initial views the team worked on things that it needed to fix from the 2014 season. It improved the CB position by acquisition and loss. It got younger with the GK position and traded a down season (Harrington) for an unknown. It appears to have a acquired a winger with quick feet who can play with both his left and right.

 

For all we know Jeanderson is Brazilian for Ryan Miller, but I'd rather go ahead with the Miller I don't know in 2015 than the Miller I do know.  At the very least, the Timbers attempted to work on the things that really hurt them in 2014, and that shows a reason for cautious optimism. Hopefully this is only the beginning of solidifying the lineup from the substitutes on up.

 

 11:34 AM

 

Here at The Axe, we like to explore the coincidences between things, and we did some digging.

 

Out of the four players acquired by the Timbers today, three of them had connections to the team through agent or direct player contact.

 

Nat Borchers: chose Portland after talking to Will Johnson

Adam Larsen Kwarasey: Agent for Kwarasey is the agent for Paul Addo, the left back that trialed with the Timbers in 2012. Addo was, as well, playing in Norway at that time. (oddly enough, he was with Odd Grenland, Nat Borcher's old team)

Jeanderson Salvador Pereira: Agent for Pereira is also the agent for James Marcelin and Kleberson.

Dairon Rivas: UNKNOWN

 

12:48 PM

 

LET THE SACRIFICES TO BA'AL COMMENCE.

 

Otherwise known as, "the MLS Protected lists approach". Today is the day for all things MLS player related and the cull of players gathered together hunger games style to feed the machine of transfer equity destined for the pristine playgrounds of Orlando (where they have amusement parks) and the Bronx (where they have baseball) arrives.

 

Thusly, toot the horn and begin the rabbling discourse of "Who, what, where" as we all take the trip down the rabbit hole of whatever MLS wants the front offices to do today.

 

There is no word, yet, if Jack Jewsbury will volunteeer for the sacrifice necessary to protect Liam Ridgewell from the stain that results on the soul of those who step out onto the field of Yankee stadium.

 

1:48 PM

 

Theoretically, we hear something in 12 minutes with regard to protected lists. At this point then there will be gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes, or not.

 

Either/Or.... we creep closer to that time.

 

Also.

 

COFFEE IN. COOOOOOOFFFFEEEEE

 

2:00 PM

 

Predictably, the news isn't out.... yet.

 

#Soon

 

In the mean time, try to imagine the whirling tornado of madness if Diego Valeri wasn't protected. I'm imagining that would be the worst case scenario for nearly every Timbers fan.

 

2:11 pm

 

Here's a picture of a hamster with a cape.

 

 

2:15 pm

Still Waiting for the MLS Protected lists.

 

2:20 pm

 

 

2:25 PM

 

 

2:30 PM

 

The new report from those concerned is that the protected lists will be out in about 30 minutes.

 

3:00 PM

 

Who Took the Over?!

 

3:34 PM

 

The list is out.

 

As follows.

 

Portland Timbers

 

Available Players
Alhassan, Kalif
Fernandez, Gaston
Jewsbury, Jack
Kah, Pa Modou
McKenzie, Rauwshan
O'Rourke, Danny
Paparatto, Norberto
Ricketts, Donovan
Villafana, Jorge
Fochive, George
Gallego, Bryan
Gleeson, Jake
Nanchoff, Michael
Peay, Taylor
Weber, Andrew

 

Protected Players
Adi, Fanendo
Borchers, Nat
Chara, Diego
Johnson, Will
Nagbe, Darlington
Powell, Alvas
Ridgewell, Liam
Urruti, Maximiliano
Valeri, Diego
Wallace, Rodney
Zemanski, Ben

 

Homegrown Players exempt from selection
Evans, Steven

 

Generation adidas Players exempt from selection
Tshuma, Ntokozo (Schillo)

 

3:37 PM

 

Johnson makes the protected list, while Villafana does not. As well, the currently negotiating with the team, Gaston Fernandez, is left unprotected.

 

There was an argument to be made that no one would select a 1.5 million dollar centerback, but the inverse of that argument is that Ridgewell has a competent sports agent who included a no-trade clause in his contract.

 

3:48 PM

 

Certainly the statement to be made from the Timbers front office is that they are fully comfortable with a Brazilian defender being the theoretical starting left full back for the team.

 

"In stating his bio the front office said:

 

"four appearances for Brazilian side Santa Rita in the 2014 Copa do Brasil, as the team reached the tournament’s Round of 16. Signing with Santa Rita in July 2014, Jeanderson started both legs of the third round as Santa Rita earned a 4-3 aggregate win over Santa Cruz to reach the Round of 16. "

 

 

Hold On:

 

Top of the league Serie A:

Team Home city Stadium Capacity
Atlético Mineiro Belo Horizonte Independência 23,018
Atlético Paranaense Curitiba Arena da Baixada 43,000
Bahia Salvador Fonte Nova 51,708
Botafogo Rio de Janeiro Maracanã 78,838
Chapecoense Chapecó Arena Condá 22,600
Corinthians São Paulo Arena Corinthians 48,234
Coritiba Curitiba Couto Pereira 40,310
Criciúma Criciúma Heriberto Hülse 19,300
Cruzeiro Belo Horizonte Mineirão 58,170
Figueirense Florianópolis Orlando Scarpelli 19,908
Flamengo Rio de Janeiro Maracanã 78,838
Fluminense Rio de Janeiro Maracanã 78,838
Goiás Goiânia Serra Dourada 50,049
Grêmio Porto Alegre Arena do Grêmio 55,662
Internacional Porto Alegre Beira-Rio 50,128
Palmeiras São Paulo Pacaembu 37,730
Santos Santos Vila Belmiro 16,798
São Paulo São Paulo Morumbi 67,052
Sport Recife Ilha do Retiro 35,020
Vitória Salvador Barradão 35,632

Relegation to the second league ends you up in Serie B:

 

Team Home city Stadium Capacity 2013 season
ABC Natal Frasqueirão 15,082 14th in Série B
América de Natal Natal Arena das Dunas 32,000 13th in Série B
América Mineiro Belo Horizonte Independência 23,000 9th in Série B
Atlético Goianiense Goiânia Serra Dourada 41,574 16th in Série B
Avaí Florianópolis Ressacada 17,537 10th in Série B
Boa Esporte Varginha Melão 15,471 11th in Série B
Bragantino Bragança Paulista Nabi Abi Chedid 17,022 12th in Série B
Ceará Fortaleza Castelão 67,037 7th in Série B
Icasa Juazeiro do Norte Romeirão 16,000 5th in Série B
Joinville Joinville Arena Joinville 22,400 6th in Série B
Luverdense Lucas do Rio Verde Passo das Emas Stadium 5,000 3rd in Série C
Náutico Recife Arena Pernambuco 46,000 20th in Série A
Oeste Itápolis Amaros 13,044 15th in Série B
Paraná Curitiba Vila Capanema 20,083 8th in Série B
Ponte Preta Campinas Moisés Lucarelli 20,970 19th in Série A
Portuguesa São Paulo Canindé 21,004 17th in Série A
Sampaio Corrêa São Luís Castelão 24,584 2nd in Série C
Santa Cruz Recife Arruda 60,044 1st in Série C
Vasco da Gama Rio de Janeiro São Januário 24,584 18th in Série A
Vila Nova Goiânia Serra Dourada 42,000 4th in Série C

 

Relegation from this ends you up in Serie C:

 

 

Relegation from this ends you up in Serie D:

 

Group A1 Atlético Acreano Genus[2] Princesa do Solimões Rio Branco Santos-AP São Raimundo-RR
Group A2 Guarany de Sobral Interporto Moto Club Remo Ríver-PI
Group A3 Baraúnas Campinense Central Coruripe Jacuipense
Group A4 Betim Confiança Globo FC Porto Vitória da Conquista
Group A5 Anapolina Brasiliense Estrela do Norte Itaporã[3] Villa Nova
Group A6 Goianésia Grêmio Barueri Luziânia Operário-MT Tombense
Group A7 Brasil de Pelotas Cabofriense Guarani de Palhoça Ituano Maringá
Group A8

See: Santa Rita aren't located in that Serie D as they didn't make it. They play in a local league called

 

Campeonato Alagoano

 

In which (as described by Wikipedia)

 

The Campeonato Alagoano is divided into three stages.

  • First stage: double round-robin, in which all teams play each other home-and-away games. The first place wins a spot on the third stage.
  • Second stage: home-and-away playoff with the top 4 teams of the first stage (1st place x 4th place, 2nd place x 3rd place).
  • Third stage: home-and-away playoff between the winner of the first stage and the second stage. If the same team wins both the first and second stages, it is declared the Campeonato Alagoano champion.

The worst two teams after the first stage are relegated to the second division.

In which we find the team

First Division

Second Division

  • Sport Clube Santo Antônio
  • Igreja Nova Futebol Clube
  • Sociedade Esportiva São Luiz
  • Associação Sportiva São Domingos
  • Sociedade Sportiva Sete de Setembro
  • Centro Sportivo Alagoano (CSA)

So to answer a question unasked.

 

Jeanderson Salvador Pereira appears to have come to the Timbers from the 5th division of Brazilian soccer.

 

4:26 PM

Here's the home stadium for Santa Rita