And with that, the last of the original four MLS Portland Timbers are gone. It's fitting, given that the Timbers are transitioning from a team often that played like an expansion squad at times in its first two years in MLS to a bonafide top-flight contender.
Portland traded likable young striker Bright Dike to Toronto FC, Monday, in exchange for talented Argentine forward Maximilano Urruti.
Anyway you slice it, this is a good thing for Portland. I liked Dike, you liked Dike, we all liked Dike. His enthusiasm for the game, his work-rate and commitment, and his nose for goal never went unnoticed in the Timbers Army, especially given his connection to the club's USL days.
But Dike was never going to be an MLS starter, certainly not for a playoff team. Moreover, his skill-set didn't matchup with Caleb Porter's vaunted possession, tempo system. Dike's best traits - strength, runs off the ball, and sheer determination, pale in comparison to what Dike lacks - technical ability, hold-up play and intricate passing moves in Porterball.
There isn't a person in Portland who doesn't wish Bright the best, and he should get the chance to showcase his abilities in a (once again) rebuilding TFC side that will finish out of the playoffs for the seventh season running.
Toronto was clincally dismantled by Portland last Saturday night at Jeld-Wen Field, and it's hard not to feel like the Timbers didn't clincially dismantle the Reds in this transaction to.
Because Max Urruti isn't just an MLS starter, he's an MLS Designated Player who cut his teeth scoring goals in Argentina's top division before coming to America in January.
Urruti was a coveted player for many teams in the league, including Portland, but after months of lusting after his signature, Kevin Payne and TFC landed the Argentine. But in a matter of weeks, Payne was fired, and Tim Leiweke (architect of the David Beckham signing) wanted to free cap space for one or two marquee signings for MLS' version of the Cleveland Browns.
From a Toronto standpoint, the move smacks of a club in disarray, a seemingly normal position up north. Urruti was Payne's guy. Leiweke had a falling out with Payne, and so Urruti is gone for an MLS benchwarmer and spot-player. A player who TFC chased for months gone after two substitute appearances.
Portland takes advantage. Urruti is the type of technically gifted, suave forward who can and will excel in Porter's offense. Just 23 years old, the striker scored 14 times in 56 appearances for Newell's Old Boys over the last three seasons. Payne, well-respected in American soccer circles and a veteran of MLS, drooled over this guy. At his best, he's a Diego Valeri at forward.
With Ryan Johnson slumping and Frederic Piquionne still out injured, Urruti figures to see time right away.
If things go well this year, you'd have to figure Urruti will fill Portland's third and final designated player spot at the beginning of the 2014 season. Urruti could be Portland's third marquee forward, and chances are he'll fare better than Kenny Cooper and Kris Boyd.
Win now. It's not so much the expectation as it is the goal right now in Portland. Make the playoffs, and make some noise. Credit here has to go to Gavin Wilkinson, however begrudgingly: He and Caleb Porter pounced on a situation that on the surface looks to be simply sensational.
In the end, Bright Dike's biggest contribution to the Portland Timbers was being traded for Max Urruti.
The Timbers got a C player for an A player today. In this season of ups and downs, injuries and returns, losses that make you wonder if this team can go anywhere and wins that make you wonder if this team can't go anywhere, a theme is developing. The 2013 Timbers: Just when you think they're out, they pull you back in.