The Portland Timbers have come away from last week’s expansion draft not losing a player, but gaining one.
On Tuesday the Timbers traded to Minnesota United a 2018 second-round draft pick in exchange for former Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
Attinella, 28, was taken by the Loons in the fourth round of the expansion draft after being left off the RSL protected list.
Wes Burdine of Fifty Five One reported last week that the rights to Miguel Ibarra were also included in the negotiations related to Attinella. Although the trade did not formally include the rights to Ibarra, that does not necessarily preclude the possibility that the negotiations for Attinella from Minnesota’s end were largely Ibarra-driven.
The Timbers hold the discovery rights to Ibarra, 26, likely as a result of the Timbers’ bid to sign the former Loon last spring before the winger stayed with Club León in Liga MX. MLS roster rules provide that a club that attempts to sign a discovery player retains a right of first refusal on that player for the next four transfer windows. If the Timbers simply chose not to exercise their right of first refusal with regard to to Ibarra, under MLS rules that could clear the way for Minnesota United to arrange a homecoming for the player Loons fans fondly refer to as Batman. It is, therefore, very possible that mechanics of Minnesota obtaining Ibarra’s rights — if they ultimately do so — are being handled informally.
Given the modest nature of the assets heading to Minnesota in exchange for Attinella, an informal arrangement in relation to Ibarra would make sense. Although Ibarra has struggled to find playing time at León and has fallen out of the national-team picture since last year, he surely still has considerable value to the Loons as a fan-favorite and on account of his prolific production on the wing for Minnesota in NASL.
The trade for Attinella, long thought of as a quality keeper prospect while backing up RSL stalwart Nick Rimando, gives the Timbers some competition for the No. 1 keeper spot. And even if, as largely expected, Gleeson holds onto the number-one shirt, the acquisition of Attinella gives the Timbers a strong back up to their current starter.
Depth in goal will be key for the Timbers to start the season as Gleeson could yet be handed down a suspension for his October DUII arrest, and Attinella’s presence on the roster could provide Gleeson competition to spur the Kiwi goalkeeper’s continued development. Moreover, with Gleeson breaking out in 2016, Attinella could be in line for a number of starts when Gleeson is called away to join the All Whites on national-team duty.
Since joining RSL in 2013 following two years with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Attinella has made 29 appearances for the side, posting five shutouts and making 107 saves while conceding 53 goals.
This move leaves the Timbers with seventeen players under contract and three more still in negotiations as they begin to build their roster for the 2017 season.
UPDATE: Fifty Five One reports the rights to Ibarra are part of the deal even though they were not formally included in the trade.