The Portland Timbers' USL side, Portland Timbers 2, have had a quiet offseason so far, bringing in new coach Andrew Gregor but otherwise flying below the radar. That changed today, however, as the side announced the signing of Nigerian youth international Akinjide Idowu.
Idowu, 19, is a versatile midfielder, known in the Nigerian footballing world as a defensive player and capable of playing fullback as well as in the center of the pitch. According to this article on O-Posts.com, Idowu has been referred to as the "human shield" and a player who could "mark the devil out of a game."
Idowu has appeared more than 50 times for the Nigerian U-17 and U-20 national teams, winning the U-17 World Cup in 2013, and advancing to the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup in 2015.
For T2, Idowu seems likely to compete for a role in the center of the pitch, taking on either the defensive midfield role as typified in the first team by Diego Chara, or the box to box shuttler role played by Darlington Nagbe. Either way the competition will be stiff, with George Fochive and Nick Besler both likely to see significant time on loan to T2 from the Timbers and New Zealand midfielder Tim Payne likely to be returning to the side.
The T2 press release:
T2 SIGN MIDFIELDER AKINJIDE IDOWU
Nigerian U-20s midfielder joins T2 for 2016 season
PORTLAND, Ore. – T2 today announced the signing of midfielder Akinjide Idowu ahead of the 2016 USL season. Idowu joins the team after helping lead Nigeria to the Round of 16 in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. Idowu will be added to the roster pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Per league and club policy, terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
"Akinjide is an experienced midfielder at the youth international level with a good skill set, and he will have a great opportunity to continue to develop in our system," said Andrew Gregor, head coach of T2.
Idowu, 19, has featured in over 50 games for Nigeria at the U-17 and U-20 levels, playing a key role in the Flying Eagles advancement to the knockout round of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in June. The midfielder made three starts in the tournament, featuring in matches against Germany, Hungary and North Korea. In 2013, Idowu helped Nigeria win a record fourth FIFA U-17 World Cup title in the United Arab Emirates. Idowu appeared in all six matches for the Nigerian U-17 side during the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, including starting and playing 90 minutes in a 3-0 win over Mexico in the championship match. Idowu also appeared in all six matches at the 2013 Confederation of African Football (CAF) U-17 championship in Morocco.
Prior to joining T2, Idowu was a member of the Nigeria Youth Soccer Academy and conducted trials with Norwegian club Sogndal and Czech side Sparta Prague.
Pronunciation: a-KIN-gee-day EE-doo-woo
Born: Sept. 9, 1996
Hometown: Kano State, Nigeria
Last Club: Nigeria Youth Soccer Academy (Nigerian U20 National Team)
Acquired: Signed on Jan. 22, 2016