This week the Portland Timbers made two moves that everybody knew were coming: re-signing Argentinian striker/midfielder Gaston Fernandez for the upcoming season and sending Liam Ridgewell on loan to Wigan Athletic in his native England.
The re-signing of Gaston Fernandez is significant in that it locks down a player who can be effective in the No. 10 spot for the Timbers in the absence of Supporters' Player of the Year Diego Valeri. Despite his stated preference for playing as a forward, Fernandez regularly filled in for Valeri last season in both non-league games and during his occasional absence, including after Valeri tore his ACL in the Timbers' final game of the 2014 season.
With Fernandez on the roster, the Timbers can get by with minimal changes to their starting line-up in the midfield, making a (more or less) like for like change bringing in La Gata for Valeri and leaving Darlington Nagbe and Rodney Wallace on the wings.
The move to send Ridgewell on loan, meanwhile, is essentially a non-issue. Ridgewell will train and get games while remaining with his family across the pond and likely netting the Timbers at least a small loan fee in the process. He is expected to rejoin the Timbers before the start of the Simple invitational in the last week of February.
It would be ideal to have Ridgewell with the team for the entirety of the preseason, but for the veteran centerback who quickly integrated with the team last season it should not be a significant issue.
With Fernandez re-signed and Ridgewell set to return to the team, the Timbers have six roster slots still available, assuming that the currently ongoing CBA negotiations make no changes to roster structure from 2014.