Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.

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Other observations and things to keep an eye on during the 2020 professional soccer season

Meanwhile, around MLS …

• Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com projects the Timbers as the 12th-most likely team to win the MLS Cup in 2020, with a 3% chance of winning the title and 3% chance of finishing with the best record in MLS. The website projects the Timbers to finish fifth in the Western Conference, with a 64% chance of making the playoffs. It gives Los Angeles FC a remarkable 25% shot at winning the MLS Cup and a 32% shot at the Supporters Shield.

• For the first time in the league's 25 seasons, MLS teams will not play everyone else. The addition of expansion teams Nashville SC (Western Conference) and Inter Miami (Eastern Conference) means there are 26 teams. In the 34-game schedule, teams will face each conference opponent twice, but play only 10 of the 13 teams in the other conference. Portland will not face D.C. United, Montreal or New York City FC.

• Aside from games against rivals Seattle, Vancouver and the Los Angeles clubs, Portland's most anticipated home match will be a July 1 visit from Columbus. Coached by former Timbers boss Caleb Porter, the Crew feature former Portland stars Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi.

• The most significant MLS offseason news was the league and the MLS Players Association agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement that runs through January 2025. Highlights included expanded free agency, more mandated charter flights, a 55% growth in the minimum salary to more than $100,000 by 2023, and a significant increase in performance bonuses.

• Again this season, the top seven teams will make the single-elimination playoffs, with the top team in each conference receiving a first-round bye. The MLS Cup final will be Nov. 7 at the home of the conference champion with the better record.

• The quality and quantity of established players entering MLS continues to increase. Among the big names to sign this season are Mexican stars Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez (L.A. Galaxy, which lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic), Rodolfo Pizarro (Inter Miami) and Alan Pulido (Sporting Kansas City), Brazilian midfielder Joao Paulo (Seattle) and Peruvian midfielder Edison Flores (D.C. United).

— Paul Danzer


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