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5 Key Players To Portland Timbers’ 2014 MLS Season

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Portland Timbers' 5 Key Players to Their 2014 MLS Season

Portland Timbers - MLS
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers finished last season with the No. 1 overall seed for the Western Conference in the 2013 MLS Playoffs, but fell to the No. 2 seed Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Finals. This season, they hope to have an even better regular season and finish out with an MLS Cup win.

In my opinion, Portland is the best team in MLS this season. They have the best goalkeeper and the best midfielder, as well as top five or ten players at every other position on the pitch. There are a lot of good teams in MLS, but the Timbers’ should be considered preseason favorites to win the Western Conference. However, being the best team in the west doesn't mean they’ll be the best or even win the MLS Cup.

Their all-around talent is going to be key to making a deep tournament run, but if any player steps off the gas Portland could drop a couple games and get an unfavorable seed in the MLS playoffs. The Western Conference is extremely top heavy, and Portland will have to play at their best to maintain momentum throughout the season.

That being said, the Timbers have the type of talent to start the season as the best team in MLS and remain the best team in MLS. Here are Portland’s five most important players going into the 2014 MLS season. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below if you think I may have let out a player that’s crucial to a successful 2014 season.

Taylor Sturm is a Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington - MLS
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Harrington likes to get forward, but he may have to tone that down a bit as some of the Western Conference teams have improved in midfield and up top. He’s good going forward, but it exposes the back line to fast breaks. His decision making is key to Portland’s season.

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4. Darlington Nagbe

Darlington Nagbe - MLS
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Nagbe is one of the most fun players to watch on Portland. He sometimes gets lost behind the brilliant play of Diego Valeri, but when Nagbe plays well the Timbers are almost unstoppable. Don’t expect that to change this year.

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3. Pa Modou Kah

Pa Modou Kah - MLS
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Kah is a big, fast defender that will have to deal with the cross-heavy and through-ball based offenses of the Western Conference. His ability to cut out crosses and win balls in the air could make or break the Timbers.

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2. Donovan Ricketts

Donovan Ricketts - MLS
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The best goalkeeper in MLS, Ricketts literally saves this team multiple times in a game. His success is integral to the success of the team as a whole.

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1. Diego Valeri

Diego Valeri - MLS
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably the best player in MLS, Valeri is a goal scorer and elite playmaker. The good news for the Timbers is that even if he has a down season, they’ve got the talent around him to continue to succeed. However, if they are to make a deep run in the MLS playoffs it will be behind his play.