Portland Timbers kick off the MLS offseason with a flurry of activity

Twitter has been buzzing with anticipation for days and right at the stroke of noon, the Portland Timbers made their first official MLS offseason announcement. Here’s a rundown of the transactions:

* Timbers acquire allocation money (what jersey # will allocation money wear?) and the rights to homegrown player and current Akron Zips defender, Bryan Gallego, from the New York Bulls in exchange for Kosuke Kimura and a 2013 2nd round draft pick.

Rumors of Kimura being sent to the Red Bulls came to light on Sunday afternoon. The rest of this deal though didn’t become clear until the Timbers dropped the press release. Word is the Timbers received over $100,000 in allocation money (not confirmed) along with a promising defender who is very familiar with incoming coach Caleb Porter. It remains to be seen whether Gallego, who will turn 20 in March, will forego returning to Zips for his junior year. To get anything promising in return for Kimura who, despite his love for the badge, really struggled from day one with Portland, is a positive takeaway as far as I’m concerned.

 * Timbers acquire defender Michael Harrington from Sporting KC in exchange for allocation money.

In a league not known for strong fullbacks, Harrington had the unfortunate luck to try and crack a starting lineup with two of the better performers in the league: Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers. Harrington carries a steeper price tag than I would like ($125,000), but if he can solidify a position that’s been weak for the Timbers since coming to MLS, it just might be worth it.

 * Timbers acquire allocation money from the Houston Dynamo in exchange for defender Eric Brunner

This one stings a bit. If there was a guy you could count on to bring it in every match he played it was Eric Brunner. It was a difficult 2012 campaign for Brunner has he spent over three months out of the lineup while recovering from a concussion he suffered in a May match against Vancouver. General Manager Gavin Wilkinson, not always known for his appropriate goodbyes to players, had nothing but praise for Brunner:

“Eric is a great person and quality player, and these types of decisions are never easy. We very much appreciate his service to the club over the past two seasons, both on and off the field. The opportunity in Houston for Eric is one that he is excited about. He is well-liked and will be missed”

* Timbers acquire Will Johnson from Real Salt Lake in exchange for allocation money

The news of this move was broken on Sunday as well, and even with the other news today, this is by far the most exciting of the transactions.

Johnson is one of those players you love to hate — as long as he’s on the other team. Johnson will provide some much-needed tenacity as well as some outstanding skill on the ball. This is clearly a move orchestrated by Caleb Porter, who likely sees Johnson playing a huge role as a winger or attacking center midfielder in his possession-based attack.

While he is a Canadian international, Johnson does not occupy an international slot on the Timbers roster.

* Finally, in other moves

The Timbers declined the options on defenders Lovel Palmer and Steve Purdy. Both will be eligible to participate in the MLS Re-Entry Draft this coming Friday.

It also appears that left back Steven Smith will not be rejoining the team in 2013. Nothing has been announced by the team, but Smith did post this on Twitter:

We’ll have more about the Steven Smith move once it’s officially announced by the Timbers.

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3 thoughts on “Portland Timbers kick off the MLS offseason with a flurry of activity

  1. Nice summary of a busy Cyber Monday at TimbersPlayersOutlet.com. Couple of thoughts somewhat at random;

    I think the Brunner move is, more than anything, a bet by the Timbers FO that his concussion issues will be serious enough to cut his career short as in “retired before May 2013” short. Obviously Houston feels differently, and given their recent form I don’t know if I’d bet against them. And, like you, I really liked Eric’s play here in Portland. I think he also suffered from the emergence of Horst-Mosquera-AJB as the centerbacks of choice with the FO and, presumably, Porter.

    It will be interesting to see what this portends for Futty Danso…

    I like both the Harrington and Johnson acquisitions, although the loss of Steven Smith (assuming that it IS a certainty…) reopens the Fullback Question I had hoped that the departure of Kimura and the arrival of Harrington had gone aways to solve.

    (N.B. – I understand that Johnson has multiple citizenships including the U.S., so despite his play for the CMNT he is not technically an international player)

    And the team placed Rodney Wallace on the Re-entry Draft list along with Purdy and Palmer. It will be interesting to see what happens Friday. I’m not sure I wouldn’t be OK with RodWall keeping a space on the bench so long as it was a half of what he’s making now…

    1. Re: Wallace – that’s my thinking too. The idea of him being a first choice starter for the Timbers in 2013 doesn’t sit well, but as depth in the squad (at a reasonable cost) I think he’s a must-keep. Hopefully he blinks first in this, what seems like, stand-off.

  2. A little late to this, but…
    Re: Wallace and re-entry.
    Players are automatically placed on the draft list if their contract negotiations haven’t been completed by the list announcement date. So we could conceivably be renegotiation or just haven’t put pen to paper right up to the start of round 1.

    It’s hard to read too much into that early. We could also be playing a slightly dangerous game and using the draft as a way to forcibly renegotiate – I.e. hope he doesn’t get drafted in round 1 and pull and renegotiate at round 2.

    I like Wallace, but he’s always looked like a guy who doesn’t know what system he should be playing in, and who knows if this new one fits him either.

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