Portland Timbers

The Portland Timbers are the quintessential MLS story. A team stocked with a couple transcendent talents in Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri, they were no one's favorite heading into the playoffs last year. But their blistering form (and yes, a bit of luck) carried them to the MLS Cup title, their first major trophy since the joining MLS in 2011.

There's a lot to like about this club. They have a one-of-a-kind stadium in this league, with absolutely rabid fan support, and a healthy following around the country. The question on the field, of course, is whether they can do it again in 2016. That's much easier in theory than practice, as there have been only three repeat champions in the first 20 seasons. Yes, it could happen, but the Timbers will have their work cut out for them to add their name to that list.

2015 record 15-11-8, 3rd place in Western Conference

2015 Playoffs MLS Cup Champions

Key additions Chris Klute, Jack McInerney, Jermaine Taylor, Zarek Valentin

Key losses Jorge Villafana, Rodney Wallace, Maximiliano Urruti, Norberto Paparatto

Projected Starting XI (4-3-3) Adam Kwarasey; Liam Ridgewell, Jermaine Taylor, Nat Borchers, Alvas Powell; Diego Valeri, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe; Lucas Melano, Fanendo Adi, Dairon Asprilla

Q&A with William Conwell, Stumptown Footy

Why should a new fan support this team?

Putting aside the whole defending champs thing, the Timbers are an exciting and dynamic team with attacking players that are a joy to watch. If you can't get behind players like Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri, then who can you? Plus: beards and chainsaws.

Team record that will be broken this year

After setting the team's single season record for goals scored in MLS last year (16), expect Fanendo Adi to break his own record in 2016. With a healthy Diego Valeri behind him and two exciting and dynamic attacking threats on the wings in Lucas Melano and Dairon Asprilla, Adi will find the back of the net early and often this year.

Who will use MLS to break into the USMNT?

Darlington Nagbe finally made his USMNT debut last season and continued getting caps in the early matches this year, so all of our national team attentions are still squarely focused on him. It isn't enough that Nagbe is in the team, getting substitute appearances on the wing, he should be starting in the center of the pitch for Jurgen Klinsmann's side.

Game we're most looking forward to in 2016

There are plenty of games that Timbers fans will be looking forward to in 2016: matches against the Sounders and Whitecaps are always circled on the calendar right away and the matches in the 2016/17 CONCACAF Champions' League will be hugely important to Timbers fans, but right now nobody is looking past March 6. After slow starts but strong finishes to each of Caleb Porter's three years, Timbers fans just want to see the team start off strong, and if they happen to do that against the team that they just beat to win the MLS Cup, the Columbus Crew, then so be it.