After a year of waiting, Bryan Gallego is finally a member of the Portland Timbers. The Home Grown Player rights for the 20-year-old (he'll turn 21 on March 10) were acquired on December 3, 2012 when the Timbers traded Kosuke Kimura to New York Red Bulls. The club also received allocation money in that deal. Gallego spent the summer of 2013 playing with the Timbers U23s and was named the team's Player of the Year.
Of course, Gallego was recruited to Akron University by Caleb Porter ahead of the 2011 season. The 5'10" defender was a Freshman All-American and later earned conference, regional and All-America awards over his three years with the Zips. When his rights were dealt to Portland, in the landmark Kimura trade, Gavin Wilkinson pointed out on the radio that they hoped Gallego would stay in school for a third year:
"Currently, we're looking at trying to encourage Bryan Gallego to go back for one more year to grow and develop as a player."
Having spent the year in Ohio and reaching second team All-America status as one of Akron's captains, the Timbers have judged Gallego ready to join the senior squad. He'll do so as the club's third Home Grown Player, joining Steven Evans on the current roster and following Brent Richards, the inaugural player designated with home grown status.
Questions about Gallego usually focus on whether or not he will play center back in MLS or if he will have to move out wide, though that is unlikely to be fully decided before training camp. Surely Porter has ideas as to how he'd like to use Gallego, but practicality may play just as great a role with turnover in the middle and the addition of Jorge Villafana in the Andrew Jean-Baptiste trade with Chivas USA.
Here's the Timbers' press release regarding the signing:
TIMBERS SIGN BRYAN GALLEGO AS HOMEGROWN PLAYER
Gallego joins club after time with Timbers U-23s, collegiate career
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers have signed defender Bryan Gallego as a Homegrown Player, it was announced today. Per MLS and club policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The Timbers acquired the Homegrown rights to Gallego from the New York Red Bulls as part of a trade Dec. 3, 2012; he was a member of the Red Bulls Academy from 2007-11.
Gallego, 20, was a standout at the University of Akron, recently finishing his junior season in 2013 by anchoring one of the best defensive units in the country. He also played for the Timbers’ top development team, the Timbers U-23s, in 2013 and contributed to a successful season that saw the team reach the Premier Development League’s (PDL) Western Conference final. The Kennelon, N.J., native has also played for the U.S. U-20 and U-18 national teams.
With the Timbers U-23s, Gallego played in 10 matches during the 2013 PDL regular season, helping the team to a second-place finish in the Northwest Division and earning PDL Team of the Week honors in Week 6. He led a defense that recorded a division-best six shutouts and allowed a division-low 12 goals. The Timbers U-23s Player of the Year, Gallego helped the team to the postseason and to the second round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Gallego played three collegiate seasons at Akron (2011-13). He played in 20 games as a junior in 2013, serving as captain on a defense that recorded nine shutouts and allowed one goal or less in 19 games. He was awarded several accolades, including College Soccer News All-America (second team), Top Drawer Soccer Best XI (third team) and All-Great Lakes Region First Team honors in 2013. Gallego was a three-time All-Mid-American Conference selection during his collegiate career and helped the Zips record 16 shutouts during the 2012 season as a sophomore.
As a U.S. youth international, Gallego was a member of the U-18 National Team pool for three years from 2009-11 and served as the team’s captain. He led the U.S. U-18 National Team to a third-place finish in the 2011 Northern Ireland Milk Cup. He played for the U.S. U-20s during the Copa Chivas in 2010 and was a part of the team’s player pool in 2012.
Born: March 3, 1993
Hometown: Kinnelon, N.J.
College: University of Akron
Citizenship: United States
Acquired: Signed as a Homegrown Player on Jan. 15, 2014
- Portland Timbers Finally Get Their Men: Gaston Fernandez and Norberto Paparatto Sign
- Ron Lee and the 1976 Portland Timbers Draft
- Newly Acquired Portland Thorns Keeper Nadine Angerer Wins FIFA Ballon d'Or
- Portland Thorns Bring in Sinead Farrelly to Bolster the Midfield
- Portland Thorns Trade Karina LeBlanc to Chicago for 2015 Draft Pick