Timbers Report: Club makes right move & places GK Aljaz Ivacic on Waivers

A promising career in Portland turned to turmoil last season. Now it seems best for both parties to move on early in the season.
Minnesota United v Portland Timbers
Minnesota United v Portland Timbers / Soobum Im/GettyImages

At one point in time, it appeared that the club had found stability in between the sticks in Aljaz Ivacic. The Slovenian National Team member had a stellar 2022 season with a MLS Best 112 saves & what seemed like the starting job all but secured. Though five years since he was signed from Slovenian Top-Flight side NK Olimpija back in January of 2019, it appears Ivacic will be moving on from Portland in the coming days.

The Athletic's Tom Bogert announced a report per a source that the Portland Timbers would place the 30-year-old Slovenian Goalkeeper on Waivers sometime this week. It's an announcement Timbers fans have seen coming for a little over a year.

Back when Ivacic lost his starting role in goal to an aging but still very composed & experienced David Bingham at the start of the 2023 season. A decision that he publicly voiced his displeasure at, speaking to reporters about why he was left out of the team sheet entirely in their match against LA Galaxy.

Former Head Coach Gio Savarese told the press that Bingham had proven himself as their best player at that position in the offseason & Ivacic hadn't practiced enough to put his team & himself in a position to win.

It was a tough pill to swallow given his previously displayed commitment to the club & expectations set to stay the team's starting goalkeeper. The seeds could have likely been planted prior to the 2022 season. When Ivacic was asked to take a pay cut in order to help with salary cap issues.

Something that would be only temporary & in 2023 he would be given a new contract "worthy of a starter". That request was made under former GM Galvin Wilkinson but upon his sacking & Ned Grabavoy's promotion, the offer he received in spring of 2023 was much lower than previously discussed.

Even as a contract extension was awarded to him in March, his displeasure & turmoil surrounding his playing time would be an issue for the remainder of the season. Even upon Savarese's termination in August, his circumstances didn't change. It was a very strange, public yet non-public fall out.

One that included alleged abusive conduct & tampering in a formal complain made by Ivacic to the MLS Players Association in late September. Something that ultimately ended in his suspension by the league for three games & an undisclosed fine for using threatening language toward team staff.

The club would have been wise to look to offload Ivacic during the offseason, whether with a transfer or with a buy out of his contract. Likely still wet from the ink jet printer it was printed on just eight months prior. But neither of those scenarios happened, creating a puzzling dilemma at the club & for fans to anxiously await the outcome of.

Fastforward, Bingham would depart the club in the offseason before being picked up by Charlotte. The front office found it time to revamp the goalkeeper position in Portland. Adding CANMNT member Maxime Crepeau, starting CF Montreal keeper James Pantemis & one of USL's best Trey Muse to the squad in the offseason.

The writing was on the wall for Ivacic. With a fourth option in homegrown keeper Hunter Sulte on loan at Indy Eleven, he was likely to be extremely far down the pecking order in the Rose City come the season's kick-off in late February.

Maxime Crépeau
DC United v Portland Timbers / Amanda Loman/GettyImages

So, with rumored requests for a trade having been mentioned by Ivacic's camp last season but also fresh off a contract extension that will keep him in Portland through 2025 with a club option (obviously not likely to be picked up) for 2026, he now finds himself possibly in the league's waiver system.

For any unfamiliar with the Waivers, the process goes as follows. A player can be placed on Waivers by their club at any time during the regular season. When that happens the player will be available for any MLS club to claim.

But it isn't as simple as "Oh, I want that player, I should sign him", there are further rules to the process. Teams get to make selections based on a Waiver Order all teams have to adhere to. That ranking system is based on pointers per game once all clubs have played at least three MLS league games. Given all clubs have now played in three MLS matches four weeks into the season, some other rules don't apply.

Though there is still a time constraint associated with the process as well. As the player will be subject to a Waiver Claiming Period which begins on the first business day after the MLS delivers notice to the clubs and ends at 5:00 PM ET (2:00 PM PT) on the second business day. If said player is no selected off Waivers then they are available to all MLS clubs on a first-come, first served format.

If a team is in the market for a first XI quality Goalkeeper with plenty of experience in MLS, they'll have to notify the league within 48 hours from the notice of Waivers. They will than declare intent to claim the player & disclose the amount of the player's Salary Budget Charge they wish to take over. Similar to loaning out a player in EA FC 24 folks, arguing over a 60/40 or 80/20 split.

In the event there are multiple suitors, the player will be awarded to whichever club is willing to absorb a Salary Budget Charge that is "meaningfully higher than other clubs & at least $15,000 higher than Senior Minimum Salary.". As well as Waiver Order, though if that claim is made after the first 48 hours than the highest bidder will receive Ivacic's services.

A player's departure from a club in non-flattering fashion is never easy to watch. But sometimes it's what is best for that player & the club moving forward. Whether or not he is picked up by another MLS club is always a gamble, especially given the previously mentioned public fallout he had with his coaches, front office & league last season. But, still there are plenty of teams who could add a player of Ivacic's quality as a starting man or as a depth piece given the right situation.

If he is selected, a likely significant amount of salary cap space will be freed up for the summer transfer window as well as a senior & international roster spot.