The Portland Timbers 2 now have six players on their roster, according to head coach Jay Vidovich after today's training session. The fledgling USL side have added former Portland Timbers homegrown signings Steven Evans and Brent Richards, 2015 superdraft pick Kharlton Belmar, former Sacramento Republic FC player Harrison Delbridge, Jamaican international Rennico Clarke, and veteran argentine striker Santiago Biglieri.
With T2 entering its first season as a club, this wave of signings represents a mix of youth and experience that should allow T2 to be competitive in the USL, while also preparing players to potentially contribute to the first team.
Biglieri, 29, is a particularly interesting player for T2 who bucks the expectation of the team going after young up-and-comers. Instead, in Biglieri T2 have a striker who has been around the block in the South American leagues, playing in Argentina, Ecuador, and Uruguay. A teammate of Diego Valeri's at Lanus from 2003 to 2009, Biglieri seems to have a similar game to his fellow countryman, Maximiliano Urruti: a quick, technical striker with plenty of flair to his game. While it is easy to wonder if Biglieri will ever have to opportunity to contribute to the first team, he will certainly add some veteran leadership to T2.
Clarke, 19, is perhaps the polar opposite of Biglieri: a young, physically imposing player with a serious upside. Having played with the Jamaican U-20s and Harbor View FC, the Timbers will be hoping that Clarke can mature into a potential first team player, much like Alvas Powell has over the last two years.
Delbridge, 22, comes to T2 one season after winning the USL championship with Sacramento last season. Delbridge was a regular starter for the Republic, playing 22 games for the champs at centerback alongside USL Pro Defender of the Year Nemanja Vukovic. A physically imposing player entering his second year as a professional, Delbridge should compete with players like Anthony Manning and Taylor Peay for time at the centerback slot with T2.
Belmar, 22, was the No. 34 pick in this year's MLS Superdraft and has proven to be a raw physical specimen in his time with the Timbers' first team so far this preseason. When asked about Belmar, Caleb Porter has repeatedly emphasized his speed and strength, noting that the rest of his game needs to be sharpened. Having played the 2014 season with the Timbers U23s, Belmar is a player who the Timbers are familiar with and whose upside is significent.
Richards, 24, seems like he should be much older after signing with the Timbers as the team's first homegrown player before the 2012 season then being waived following a season-ending knee injury the following year. It has been a long road back to full fitness for the Camas High School graduate, but Richards is now back and looking happy to be on the field again with the Timbers.
Evans, 23, was the second Timbers homegrown player signed by the team. While Evans never had much of an impact on the Timbers' first team, he was the first announced signing by T2 and should add a calm presence in the midfield, whether in the defensive midfield position that he was groomed for in 2013 and 2014 or further up the field in the position that he played in college and with the Timbers U23s.
The signings give T2 two forwards, two defenders, a midfielder, and Richards, who has been tried out in a number of different positions in the early days of the T2 preseason.
Vidovich reiterated today that T2 will be looking to sign 14 players to the team roster, in addition to any first team players that spend time on loan with the team. He did not give a time-frame for any upcoming signings, instead emphasizing that the Timbers want to find the right players for the side, no matter how long that takes.
Edit: The Timbers' press release: