Portland Timbers first-year head coach Phil Neville believes that the Western Conference side will be welcoming a ‘top, top DP’ in the coming weeks before the start of the new season.
As of right now, Portland have just one Designated Player on their books. That is star midfielder Evander, who managed nine goals and five assists in his first season in MLS upon joining from Danish side Midtjylland for a reported club-record fee of $10m.
Brazilian giants Flamengo were heavily linked with a move for the 25-year-old, but now Neville fully believes that Evander will have extra help on the way in the next few weeks. The Timbers found themsleves with two open DP slots — each MLS team can sign up to three — after Yimmi Chara and Jaroslaw Niezgoda both departed the club after the 2023 season.
“We’ve got ownership’s backing to go out there and bring in a top, top DP,” the former Inter Miami boss said. “I think over the next two or three weeks, there will be some exciting news coming our way.”
Portland fans have already received exciting news earlier in the offseason, as former LAFC shot-stopper Maxime Crepeau signed for the Timbers as a free agent while fellow Canada international center-back Kamal Miller was traded from Miami to the Western Conference club.
As the Timbers shelled out the big bucks to acquire Evander, Neville hopes the scouting department will be able to make it two-for-two in recent signings if Portland are to spend big once again.
“You look at the money that’s been spent around, particularly the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference now, you need to get these signings right. That means you’ve got to do your due diligence, your scouting, your recruitment. That’s what we’re doing,” said Neville.
“I feel with the process we’ve got in place, we’re in a great position and it’s nice when you’ve got the ownership’s backing to go out there and bring in the players that you want. Over the next two or three weeks, the Timbers Army I think will be really pleased with who we bring in.”
The Timbers, who haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2021 when they were MLS Cup runners-up to New York City FC, will aim to return to the postseason with Neville at the helm. Portland prepares to take on the new-look Colorado Rapids to kick-off their 2024 season on February 24 at Providence Park.