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Could Rodney Wallace Return to the Timbers?

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MLS: MLS Cup Final-Portland Timbers at Columbus Crew Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

A familiar name popped up on the Timbers rumor radar on Tuesday afternoon: Rodney Wallace.

The most recent flurry of Timbers transfer news came on Tuesday from Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep, who followed up on Monday’s reports with some additional details confirming that the Nagbe-to-Celtic talks was on ice and sprinkled in a variety of tidbits about the Timbers’ offseason for good measure.

As has been largely suspected, Ives reported the Timbers are on the hunt for a designated player on the wing. In the course of doing so, Galarcep also indicated the Timbers are looking to offload Lucas Melano and that multiple clubs in Argentina are interested.

Those revelations, however, aren’t surprising in the Rose City, as the signing of David Guzman as a non-DP strongly suggested the Timbers would look to use their third DP spot on a winger, and Melano’s departure has been largely assumed since the end of the season.

But Ives wasn’t finished. In his story Galarcep also reported the Timbers are looking to reunite with Wallace, and that the Costa Rican winger has at least some interest in a reunion.

The potential of bringing Wallace back to Portland is certainly interesting after a 2016 season in which the Timbers missed both Wallace’s locker-room presence and two-way play on the wing. But whereas Wallace left Portland as a clear starter on the left wing, it looks unlikely he would be a projected starter in his return to the Timbers with Darlington Nagbe slated for one wing — if his production numbers are any indication, then likely the left wing — and the Timbers’ DP target, whomever that may be, slated for the other.

Still, it appears Wallace would likely step in as the first winger off the bench, and, as a result, would be in line for a significant number of starts any time Nagbe is out of the lineup, or has to slide over to cover another position.

But even when not in the starting eleven, Wallace would stand to be a consistent contributor off the bench. If the Timbers needed to make a defensive substitution, Caleb Porter could bring on Wallace for somebody like Diego Valeri with Nagbe shifting to the ten. The Timbers, therefore, would improve defensively at two positions with one substitution while keeping a very viable attacking group on the field. Similarly, if Porter needed to make an attacking move, he could bring Wallace on for a defensive midfielder, drop Nagbe to the eight, and insert Wallace on the left wing.

Thus, even if Wallace isn’t formally at the top of the depth chart, there is certainly a significant role for him to fill in Portland if the Timbers and Wallace can come to terms.

That “if,” however, has proven to be a stumbling block before. Stay tuned.