Goalkeepers Depth Chart: 1. Troy Perkins, 2. Jake Gleeson, 3. Joe BendikStrengths: Entering his seventh season in MLS, Troy Perkins is coming off a career year with the Timbers. He posted a career-high nine shutouts in 29 games and also turned in a career-high 342-minute scoreless streak that spanned an entire month. With an improved back line and another year under his belt with the Timbers, Perkins should once again be considered one of the league’s top goalkeepers in 2012.Weaknesses: When you look past Perkins, Portland are short on goalkeeping experience. The veteran’s two backups, Jake Gleeson and Joe Bendik, are 21 and 22 years old, respectively. Gleeson, while talented as a former New Zealand youth national team member, appeared in only four games last year and made three starts, his only MLS experience. Bendik is also a promising young 'keeper who played for top-flight Norwegian club Sogndal last season, but he is a MLS rookie.Wildcard: Gleeson and Bendik will compete for the backup spot behind Perkins. And the youth and talent of both keepers should keep Perkins on his toes.READ: 2012 Portland Timbers PreviewDefense Depth Chart: RB: 1. Lovel Palmer, 2. Steve Purdy 3. Ryan Kawulok; CB: 1. Eric Brunner – Hanyer Mosquera, 2. Mamadou “Futty” Danso, 3. Andrew Jean-Baptiste, 4. David Horst; LB: 1. Mike Chabala, 2. Rodney Wallace, 3. Chris TaylorStrengths: Bolstering the back line was one of the front office’s priorities this offseason. They seem to have done just that, with the highest-profile addition being Colombian Hanyer Mosquera. At 6-foot-1, 175-pounds, the Timbers like his physical presence and with a number of fellow countrymen already on the team, fitting in shouldn’t be a problem. He’ll be a nice addition to the leadership provided by Eric Brunner, one of the only mainstays on the defense last year.Weaknesses: Lovel Palmer and Mike Chabala were brought over from Houston midseason last year for their experience and ability to push the ball on offense. They sometimes struggled with faster wings, however, and their spots could be challenged by the more physical Steve Purdy and the lightning-quick Rodney Wallace. Wildcard: Center back David Horst changed the face of Portland’s defense when he was healthy last year. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder was a beast in the middle and could make for an imposing front with the combination of him and Mosquera or Brunner. The problem is Horst is not healthy and won’t be ready until around midseason as he recovers from offseason hip surgery.Midfield Depth Chart: LM: 1. Franck Songo’o, 2. Darlington Nagbe, 3. Kalif Alhassan; CM: 1. Jack Jewsbury, 2. Diego Chara, 3. James Marcelin, 4. Eric Alexander; RM: 1. Darlington Nagbe, 2. Eric Alexander, 3. Rodney WallaceStrengths: The Timbers are loaded at midfield and could tinker with a number of lineups and formations. Jack Jewsbury is the team captain and was their lone MLS All-Star last season. Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chara are two of the league’s most promising young talents and will be expected to improve from up-and-down seasons last year.Fans are clamoring for the coaching staff to push Nagbe up to forward – and Nagbe perhaps agrees – but with the addition of No. 9 Kris Boyd, last year's SuperDraft No. 2 pick will likely see his role stay as more of an attacking midfielder. Holding the ball up on the wings was a problem for Portland last season and they’ll look to Eric Alexander and Franck Songo’o, who has wowed the Timbers with brilliant preseason play, to address that issue.Weaknesses: There’s still a lot of youth here, with Jewsbury and Songo’o as the only seasoned professionals in the group. And as the coaching staff molds the new offense around Boyd, there could be an adjustment period before things run smoothly. Keeping everyone happy will also be a challenge for the front office.Wildcard: Alexander was on his way to stardom two years ago as a regular during Dallas’ 2010 19-game unbeaten streak, which resulted in a US national team call up. But last season he was traded to Portland and never found his niche. There’s no question Spencer likes what he can do, so look for him to have a breakout season.Forwards Depth Chart: 1. Kris Boyd, 2. Jorge Perlaza, 3. Bright Dike, 4. Eddie JohnsonStrengths: Forward is another position with impressive depth for Portland, especially after the acquisition of Designated Player Boyd. Jorge Perlaza was second on the team last season with six goals. Boyd, the Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading goal scorer, was brought to the Timbers to jumpstart an offense that ranked 14th in MLS. If 164 goals in 296 SPL appearances is any indication, Boyd should do just that.Weaknesses: With the resources spent on bringing Boyd to Portland, if the forward position has any weaknesses, it will be considered a major disappointment by the front office and fans. With that in mind, Boyd has faced criticism as being uninspired and unmotivated at times.Wildcard: Bright Dike is primed to play a bigger role with the Timbers. The hulking Notre Dame graduate ruptured his Achilles in the preseason last year and returned late in the season. He’s fully healthy now and raring to go. Finding him time on the field will be a challenge for Spencer. Setting the Scene Saying the Portland Timbers' foray into MLS was a roller-coaster ride would be an understatement. The Timbers burst onto the scene in 2011, with their raucous fans and European-esque stadium atmosphere being the first to make national headlines. Portland went all in with the signing of veteran forward Kenny Cooper, pushing their chips into the pot for a one-time prolific goal scorer with Dallas. And it seemed to have paid off as the Timbers flew out of the gates, winning their first five home games. But then a dry spell hit during the summer months, and the Timbers won just one of their next 10 games. Cooper didn’t score for three months, leading to a place on the bench. But then things turned around again, starting with an emphatic 3-0 victory against the eventual MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy on Aug. 3, with Cooper earning his way back onto the field thanks to a concussion suffered by Eddie Johnson. Portland went on to spar their way into postseason contention with Cooper leading the way as he rediscovered his scoring touch over the final two months of the season. But despite the inspired run and five goals from Cooper in their final 13 matches, the Timbers just missed a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs. In and Out IN: F José Adolfo Valencia (12/14: Independiente Santa Fe/Colombia); F Brent Richards (1/4: Home Grown); DAndrew Jean-Baptiste (1/12: SuperDraft); M Brendan King (1/12: SuperDraft); D Hanyer Mosquera (1/17: free); MRyan Kowaluk (1/17: supplemental draft); M Miguel Ibarra (1/17: supplemental draft); G Doug Herrick (1/17: supplemental draft); M Logan McDaniel (1/17: supplemental draft); F Kris Boyd (1/30: free); M Charles Renken(1/31: waiver wire); M Franck Songo'o (2/16: free); GK Joe Bendik (2/24: Sogndal) OUT: D Kevin Goldthwaite (11/29: retired); F/M Ryan Pore (12/1; option declined); G Adin Brown (12/12: option declined); M Rodrigo López (12/12: option declined); M Peter Lowry (12/12: option declined); F Brian Umony(12/12: option declined); F Kenny Cooper (1/12: trade to New York) Star Attraction: Kris Boyd The Timbers traded one high-profile forward in Cooper for another in Boyd. Having deemed the Cooper experiment a failure, a decision that paved the way for his trade to New York, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson doubled down to bring in Boyd, the Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading scorer. The Portland soccer scene has been abuzz ever since he arrived in town on Feb. 20. Boyd scored 164 goals in 296 SPL appearances with Kilmarnock FC (2000-05) and Rangers FC (2006-10). The new Timbers No. 9 not only gave Portland fans another reason to fall in love with their club but a reason Portland will be a playoff contender in 2012. Unsung Hero: Troy Perkins As much as any Timbers player last year, Troy Perkins held the team together. One of the few veterans on the young expansion club, Perkins led the team with 25 consecutive starts, and turned in a career-best season with nine shutouts and a 342-minute scoreless stretch. His kick save that preserved a 1-0 win on July 16 against Chicago was the reason for Portland’s first franchise win on the road and was the runner-up for MLS Save of the Year. Yes, Perkins always had a knack for coming through in the clutch. Ready for Primetime: Darlington Nagbe Nagbe was certainly no stranger to screen time in his rookie season, especially after his juggling golazo on July 2 against Sporting Kansas City that became an overnight Internet sensation and was voted MLS Goal of the Year. But the forward/midfielder, who was selected No. 2 overall in last year’s SuperDraft, was the first to admit that more was expected. He scored just two goals and recorded three assists, low numbers for the role he played in the offense. And Nagbe isn’t the only one expecting major strides in his sophomore campaign. Head coach John Spencer has continually compared his pure skills to Landon Donovan. With comparisons like that, Nagbe needs to produce. Storylines to Watch 1. Will Kris Boyd be the goal-scoring assassin that the Timbers are expecting? The Scottish striker is coming off a disappointing one-year stint in Turkey. Since arriving in Portland, Boyd has said he is motivated to resurrect his career as a prolific goalscorer. But with the immense pressure of a passionate soccer market bearing down, can that happen in the Rose City? 2. Can the Timbers maintain the momentum from their late-season playoff charge? Portland players said they finally came together during the season’s final two months to mount a postseason push. Was that for real, or will the Timbers return to their inconsistent midseason form? 3. Will the injury bug hurt the Timbers? Every team battles with it, but Portland is coming into the season sans Eddie Johnson, David Horst and José Adolfo Valencia, all of whom will miss major time. And Boyd and midfielder Frank Songo’o have already been dinged this preseason and missed training time. What He Said “There’ve been some nice additions, and I think the biggest story is depth. You cannot have depth as a first-year team; you can’t have competition at every position. There’s not a position that we have right now that there’s not a competition for.”– Timbers owner Merritt Paulson (pictured right with coach John Spencer) If Everything Goes Right Even in an improved Western Conference, anything short of the playoffs will be a disappointment for the Timbers. With major offseason investment that seemingly addressed each weakness from last season, Portland should be considered one of the most improved clubs in MLS. They narrowly missed the postseason last year. In a perfect world, all the moves work and Boyd scores high double-digit goals, Mosquera forms an imposing backline partnership and Songo’o adds creativity and inspiration to an already solid midfield. Fold all that in with All-Star captain Jack Jewsbury, talented young players in Nagbe and Diego Chara and stalwart 'keeper Perkins, and Portland could be in for a memorable year and a top-five finish in the West.