The Portland Timbers have been looking for a defender to shore up the team's defense and it appears that they have finally gotten their man, signing 29-year-old English defender Liam Ridgewell today on a free transfer. Ridgewell, a veteran of the British Premier League, will occupy the Timbers' third designated player spot, along with Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi.
Most recently, Ridgewell played for West Bromwich Albion in the 2013-14 season, helping West Brom avoid the drop down to the Championship. Over the last two seasons, Ridgewell made 76 appearances for West Brom and was a fixture in the center of the defense for the Baggies.
West Brom has not been the only club with which Ridgewell has made an impact. In the course of his twelve year professional career, Ridgewell has also played significant matches for Aston Villa and Birmingham City.
Ridgewell joins a centerback corps that includes the often-injured Norberto Paparatto, the currently injured Pa Modou Kah, jack-of-all-trades Danny O'Rourke, and journeyman Rauwshan McKenzie.
The Timbers' press release:
TIMBERS SIGN DESIGNATED PLAYER LIAM RIDGEWELL
Portland adds third DP as experienced English defender joins club after 11 EPL seasons with Aston Villa, Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that the club has signed veteran English Premier League (EPL) defender Liam Ridgewell to a multiyear contract as the club’s third Designated Player. He will be added to the Timbers’ roster pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 visa. Per league and club policy, terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
"Liam is a proven defender at the highest level and brings strong leadership qualities along with a wealth of experience," said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager of the Timbers. "After attending a recent match at Providence Park, Liam was incredibly taken by the fans and atmosphere generated here in Portland and, despite receiving several attractive offers to stay in the Premiership, chose the Timbers due to his belief in the vision and football philosophy of the organization. He is keenly committed to helping this club exceed its already lofty goals this season, and for seasons to come."
Carrying an experienced pedigree with more than 250 matches played over 11 English Premier League seasons spent with Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, Ridgewell, 29, played the last two-and-a-half seasons with West Brom, making 76 appearances as one of the club’s primary options in defense. Ridgewell made 33 appearances during the 2013-14 EPL season, logging 90 minutes in all but three of his appearances while helping the Baggies remain in the Premiership for a fifth consecutive season.
"Moving into the summer transfer window it was no secret we were looking to strengthen our squad with a top-level defender, and we are extremely pleased to announce the signing of Liam Ridgewell," said Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers. "Liam is still in his prime at only 29 years old and he's been playing game in and out in the English Premier League versus many of the top attacking players in the world. This pedigree, along with his leadership qualities and technical ability as a left-sided central defender, makes him an ideal choice to enhance our backline for the second half of the season and beyond."
Prior to joining West Brom, the Bexley, England, native spent five seasons with Birmingham City, helping the club win the 2011 Football League Cup with a 90-minute performance in a 2-1 win against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in London. Ridgewell, a member of the England Under-21 National Team from 2004-06, made 152 career appearances for the Blues as the club spent three years in the EPL and two in English League Championship during his stint.
Beginning his professional career with Aston Villa, Ridgewell made his debut on loan with AFC Bournemouth in 2002 before earning his first competitive match with the Villans in the third round of the FA Cup in January 2003. Ridgewell made 79 appearances in his time with Aston Villa.
Ridgewell will occupy an international slot and third Designated Player spot on the Timbers roster.
Born: July 21, 1984, in Bexley, England
Last Club: West Bromwich Albion (England)
Acquired: Signed as a Designated Player on June 25, 2014