Portland Timbers 2023 MLS season preview: Tactics, predicted XI, predictions

The Portland Timbers head into 2023 looking for an immediate return to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

So often challengers over the past seven years, the Timbers suffered a rare blip by dropping out of the Playoffs spots last season, in the end missing out by just a single point.

However, it’s hard to keep Portland down two years in a row and head coach Gio Savarese will be hard at work plotting their path back above the Playoffs line.

So, here’s everything you need to know about the Portland Timbers ahead of the new MLS season, including tactics, key players, and predictions.

Transfers in


Former Club



FC Midtjylland


Noel Caliskan

LMU Lions


Transfers out


Club Joined


Bill Tuiloma

Charlotte FC


Blake Bodily

San Diego Loyal

Free transfer

George Fochive


Justin vom Steeg


Josecarlos van Rankin


End of loan

Savarese mostly used a 4-2-3-1 formation last year that focused on making the Timbers hard to beat and quick on the break with their fast wingers.

For a while, it worked, but as the season wore on, injuries crept in and things started to fall apart.

However, the winter signing of Evander should do plenty to knit everything back together and if he hits the ground running, the Brazilian has the potential to be one of the best players in the league and push Portland back into contention.

At the very least, Evander should make the Timbers a little smoother and more effective during prolonged spells of possession.

Portland Timbers predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Ivacic; Mosquera, McGraw, Mabiala, Bravo; D. Chara, Williamson; Moreno, Evander, Y. Chara; Niezgoda.


Evander holds the key for the Timbers. / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages


He hasn’t even kicked a competitive ball yet and already Evander looks like he’ll be the difference between success and failure for the Timbers this year.

The Brazilian – Portland’s club-record signing – arrives following a 167-game spell with Danish giants FC Midtjylland, during which he scored 50 goals and notched 38 assists.

They’re some pretty impressive numbers, but even more important will be his ability to link defense to attack, and open up the opposition with a combination of fluid movement and precision passing.

Get it right, and the Timbers should be their same old competitive selves.

There’s plenty for the Timbers to be optimistic about heading into 2023. They’ve brought a potentially elite talent into the league while leaving only small gaps to be filled in their existing roster.

If Savarese gets the balance right, the stars could align to lift Portland back into the Playoffs and thinking how far they could go.

They’ll likely be fighting for the last couple of spots but should get it done.

Will the Portland Timbers qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs? Yes