by: COURTESY OF CRAIG MITCHELLDYER - Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers pushes through the San Jose Earthquakes during exhibition play on Sunday.While the nuts and bolts of the 2014 Portland Timbers will be the same, Portland has added several new players to the mix.

Timbers defender Jack Jewsbury says the new players have done well immersing themselves into the culture of the club.

“They fit in really well,” Jewsbury says. “We’ve got a great locker room, and this team jells well on the field and off the field. The coaching staff has done a great job scouting the types of guys who fit into this system. We’re glad to have them."

Some of the new acquisitions have been from foreign countries. The list includes Argentinians Gaston Fernandez and Norberto Paparatto, along with Schillo Tshuma from Zimbabwe.

Jewsbury says that the faster the foreign players assimilate into American culture and begin learning English, the better they tend to do in Major League Soccer.

“Whenever you get foreign players from other leagues, you hope they buy into it and take the English classes,” Jewsbury says. “You see the guys who do that and take the English classes succeed more than the others. The group we’ve had have always been great about that, and we expect nothing different from the new guys.”

  • • The Timbers have fallen back quickly into the rhythm of playing their possession-oriented game, keeping the ball at their feet and giving themselves numerous chances to score.

    However, goals have been hard to come by. In five preseason matches, the Timbers have been held to four goals and have been shut out twice, one each by the Seattle Sounders and the San Jose Earthquakes.

    “We’ve got to find more goals,” striker Darlington Nagbe says. “It’s up to us attackers.”

  • • Midfielder Diego Valeri is getting closer to being back at full strength.

    Last year, the 27-year-old Argentinian was sensational in his first MLS season, racking up a league-leading 13 assists and scoring 10 goals. Valeri was slowed through the later part of the 2013 season by a sports hernia, though. He underwent surgery in December and began training with the club last week.

    Valeri was used as a substitute in the 61st minute of the Timbers' preseason match Sunday against the San Jose Earthquakes. While he did nothing of note during the match, he did not seem to be suffering any ill effects from his surgery.

    “The nice thing is he looks healthy,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter says. “He’s still getting back in sync. He only started training Friday. Getting him back in the flow and the rhythm of the team is going to take a little bit of time. But, he’s a good player. It won’t take too long.”

  • • Portland will have several options for who takes its free kicks this season, with midfielders Will Johnson, Gaston Fernandez and Diego Valeri top candidates.

    “Will Johnson can hit those,” Porter says. “He and (Fernandez) will share them. And Valeri is another one who can hit them. This year, we have multiple options.

    Fernandez took all of the set pieces on Sunday, with Johnson out sick and Valeri not getting into the match until the second half. Fernandez had several nice services, though the Timbers were unable to capitalize on any of them in their 1-0 Rose City Invitational exhibition loss at Providence Park.

    “His service on set pieces (Sunday night) was very good,” Porter said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get a head on some of them.”

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