Just two hours after announcing the signing of defender Zarek Valentin, the Portland Timbers have announced that veteran MLS midfielder Ned Grabavoy has been signed as well. Best known for his time with Real Salt Lake, Grabavoy will give the Timbers some important depth and experience in the midfield.
One of MLS's inaugural class of free agents, Grabavoy, 32, joins the Timbers from New York City FC after playing out his contract with the expansion side. While with New York, Grabavoy made 26 appearances for the struggling Eastern Conference side, adding two goals and three assists for the club from a central midfield role.
For the Timbers, Grabavoy will certainly be regarded as an important depth piece in the center of the pitch, pushing Darlington Nagbe for his CM spot in the Timbers' preferred 4-3-3, but is also comfortable out on the wing and pinching inside in a 4-5-1.
Regardless of his spot on the field, Grabavoy has long been regarded as a strong possession player, a quality that the Timbers have sometimes lacked in their bench players in recent years. That regard is born up by the numbers; in 2015 Grabavoy remained a tidy passer, completing 86% of his passes with NYCFC despite his team's struggles -- a passing percentage on par with Diego Chara, who also completed 86% of his passes, and just south of Darlington Nagbe, who completed 89% of his.
The Timbers press release:
TIMBERS SIGN MIDFIELDER NED GRABAVOY
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers have signed free agent midfielder Ned Grabavoy, it was announced today. Per league and club policy, terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Grabavoy becomes Portland’s first-ever free agent signing in MLS.
"Ned is a versatile, veteran player that brings a great deal of MLS and CONCACAF Champions League experience to the club," said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager of the Timbers. "His addition not only gives us important depth during a congested season, but it also helps us maintain the integrity of the core group already in place."
Grabavoy, 32, has made 279 league appearances (220 starts) during a 12-year MLS career and most recently registered two goals and three assists in 26 games (22 starts) for New York City FC in their inaugural season in 2015. Grabavoy joined NYCFC as the second overall pick in the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft following a six-year stint with Real Salt Lake.
"Ned is a great fit for our club. He is a smart and technical player that provides quality proven depth in several attacking roles," said Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers. "His MLS and CCL experience will also be key in helping us manage a rigorous schedule involving multiple competitions."
A two-time MLS Cup-winning midfielder, Grabavoy made 159 appearances for Real Salt Lake from 2009-14, helping the club win MLS Cup in 2009 before reaching the final again in 2013. Recording 10 goals and 14 assists in his time with Real Salt Lake, Grabavoy helped guide the club to the MLS Cup Playoffs in each of his six seasons, while also logging 15 appearances (10 starts) during CONCACAF Champions League play.
Beginning his career with the LA Galaxy as the 14th overall selection in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, Grabavoy made 34 appearances for the Galaxy from 2004-06, including four postseason matches (all starts) during the team’s MLS Cup-winning run in 2005. Overall, the Joliet, Ill., native has made 18 career postseason appearances (12 starts), recording two goals. During his MLS career, Grabavoy also has spent time with Columbus Crew SC (2006-07) and the San Jose Earthquakes (2008).
Internationally, Grabavoy earned time with the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team in 2003, making four appearances (3 starts) during the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates. The midfielder also played three seasons with Indiana University, helping the program capture the 2003 NCAA National Championship.
Born: July 1, 1983, in Joliet, Ill.
Last Club: New York City FC
College: Indiana University
Citizenship: United States
Acquired: Signed on Jan. 12, 2016 as a free agent