2. Troubles at the back?
The Portland Timbers surprised many by making limited changes to their defense, despite leaking goals toward the end of last season as injuries and fatigue built up among the squad.
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While the Timbers made center-back Dario Zuparic their first signing of the offseason, they have largely stuck with the same group of defensive players as last year. Zarek Valentin to the Expansion Draft and letting Claude Dielna go are the major departures, while the club added homegrown player Blake Bodily and MLS veteran full-back Chris Duvall, neither of which are set to play key roles.
In front of the defense sits Diego Chara and Cristhian Paredes, who recently completed his transfer to the Timbers from Liga MX side Club America, a pairing in defensive midfield that has proven dominant when the Timbers have looked their best over the past two seasons.
While much of the Timbers’ defensive issues could be attributed to injuries, with Bill Tuiloma missing significant portions of the latter part of the seasons and his replacements having subpar performances, the fact that Portland did not add more to the backline could be concerning if things do not start out well.