Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter and general manager Gavin Wilkinson held a conference call today in the wake of this week's bevy of moves from the team and before tomorrow's MLS SuperDraft. While the call covered plenty of ground, there were two big confirmations that came out of it: the team believes that Norberto Paparatto will be staying in Argentina and will not be with the Timbers next year, and the team is working to sign Jermaine Taylor, whose rights were taken during the 2015 MLS Re-entry Draft.
Paparatto, 32, was offered a contract by the Timbers after the team decided not to pick up his option following the end of the 2015 season, Wilkinson told the press. Paparatto's option would have seen his salary cap hit continue to rise, Wilkinson said, talking about the difficulties of keeping together a championship winning team.
Wilkinson sounded hopeful that Taylor, 30, would sign with the team soon as a potential replacement for Paparatto and told the press that negotiations with the Jamaican international were ongoing, but that the club hopes to finalize them soon.
Addressing the qualities that Taylor brings to the pitch, Porter highlighted the defender's international experience as well as his experience in MLS and mentioned that Taylor brings something different to the back line than Liam Ridgewell and Nat Borchers while playing a more athletic style.
Porter also touched on some of the Timbers' other recent moves, confirming that the team wanted to bring in players that would allow them to win now while still growing for the future. Porter, who called winning both the CONCACAF Champions League and the MLS regular season priorities for the team this year, told the press that players like Zarek Valentin and Jack McInerney who are both of similar age to some of the college players coming out of the SuperDraft but have proven themselves as professionals are a part of doing that.
Valentin, Porter said, can play as either a right or a left back and has some experience playing at center back as well. Porter also highlighted the technical side of Valentin's game, comparing him to Jorge Villafana.