After the Portland Timbers traded up in the 2013 MLS Re-Entry Draft, they quickly followed that move up by picking Steve Zakuani in the draft's first stage, guaranteeing that they will extend him a bona fide offer. Zakuani, the Seattle Sounders' first pick in the Superdraft after joining MLS in 2009, is a talented left winger who has struggled with injuries since having his leg broken in 2011.
Picking up Zakuani is an important move for the Timbers following the word that Rodney Wallace has torn his ACL will miss the start of the 2014 season. The tear would have occurred in the Timbers final playoff game against Real Salt Lake when Wallace was forced to leave the pitch just before half-time.
Merritt Paulson confirmed the injury on Twitter.
@TheMikeDonovan he will be back faster than you think. surgery announcement coming soon but Rodney is quick healer— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) December 12, 2013
UPDATE: Now the Timbers have officially confirmed that Wallace has undergone surgery to repair his ACL and will be out 5-7 months.
Zakuani should be able to slot into the Timbers system quickly, however, having played under Caleb Porter and alongside Darlington Nagbe and Ben Zemanski at Akron, where they won a National Championship together. Zakuani also played alongside Nagbe with the Cleveland Internationals of the USL PDL.
The Timbers' press release:
TIMBERS SELECT STEVE ZAKUANI IN STAGE 1 OF MLS RE-ENTRY PROCESS
Portland moves up to No. 2 in selection order to pick veteran midfielder Zakuani
PORTLAND, Ore. – After trading up to the No. 2 pick in the selection order, the Portland Timbers today selected midfielder Steve Zakuani in Stage 1 of the 2013 MLS Re-Entry Process.
Portland announced a trade with Chivas USA earlier in the day, acquiring the No. 2 slot in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Process and midfielder/defender Jorge Villafaña in exchange for the No. 17 selection in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Process and defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste.
Zakuani, 25, is a veteran of five MLS seasons, playing for Seattle Sounders FC from 2009-13. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Zakuani appeared in 80 regular-season matches, recording 17 goals and 14 assists during his time in Seattle. A finalist for 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year, Zakuani had a breakout season the following year in 2010, compiling career highs with 10 goals and six assists in 29 regular-season appearances and finishing as the club’s co-leader in goals. He overcame a broken leg early in the 2011 MLS season and returned to the field after 14 months, playing in eight league games for Sounders FC in 2012. He has four game-winning goals and five game-winning assists in his MLS career.
Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zakuani appeared in 101 matches across all competitions for Seattle, playing a role in the club’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championships in 2009 and 2010, and its CONCACAF Champions League runs in 2010 and 2012.
Zakuani played two standout collegiate seasons at the University of Akron, where he led the nation in scoring as a sophomore with 20 goals and 47 points in 23 games during the 2008 campaign. Among numerous collegiate accolades, he was the runner-up for the Hermann Trophy and an NSCAA All-American following his final season at Akron in 2008. He signed with MLS as a member of Generation adidas after his sophomore season and was the first overall pick in the 2009 SuperDraft.
As a youth, Zakuani, who moved to London at the age of four, played in the academy of English Premier League side Arsenal FC for six years (1997-2002), starting at the age of nine.
Born: Feb. 9, 1988, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Hometown: London, England
Last Club: Seattle Sounders FC
College: University of Akron
Citizenship: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Acquired: Selected in Stage 1 of the 2013 MLS Re-Entry Process