The Portland Timbers have finalized the signing of former Newcastle United center back Steven Taylor, the club announced today. With the Timbers’ back line suddenly in dire straights with the loss of Nat Borchers to a season-ending torn Achilles tendon and the all too regular absences of Liam Ridgewell, the presence of another high quality center back has become an urgent necessity.
With Taylor, 30, the Timbers get another seasoned and versatile defender in a similar mold to Ridgewell. Capable of playing anywhere across the back line in a pinch and comfortable playing out of the back, Taylor should be able to step quickly into the Timbers’ system.
However, there will almost certainly be an adjustment period needed for Taylor to step in to the Timbers’ lineup as he is coming off his offseason and will need some time to get back to match fitness.
Taylor grew up playing in the Newcastle system, joining the side’s youth teams in 1995 and going on to play more than 200 matches for the side in England’s top three leagues since signing his first professional contract in 2003 at the age of seventeen. That would come to an end after the 2015-16 season, however, as Taylor was dropped by experienced English Premier League manager Rafa Benitez following Newcastle’s most recent relegation from the English top flight.
Somewhat concerning is Taylor’s injury history with Newcastle. The defender has missed significant periods of time in all but one of the last six seasons, having suffered two ruptured achilles tendons, two extended hamstring injuries, and an extended shoulder injury in that time.
If Taylor can stay healthy, than the Timbers might just have picked up a bargain for the back line, but if his injury issues once again rear their ugly head the Timbers could find themselves once again ruing the lack of consistency along their back line.
The Timbers’ press release:
TIMBERS SIGN ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE DEFENDER STEVEN TAYLORCentral defender joins Portland following 13 seasons with Newcastle United F.C.
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers have signed longtime English Premier League central defender Steven Taylor, it was announced today. Taylor, who joins the Timbers with more than 260 appearances across all competitions with Newcastle United F.C., will be added to the Timbers’ roster pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 visa.
“Taylor is a player with a wealth of experience in the English Premier League and will be a good fit in our club,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “This addition addresses a positional need at a critical stage of the season.”
Taylor, 30, joins the Timbers after spending 13 seasons in the top divisions in England with Newcastle United, including 12 years in the English Premier League. After making his Premier League debut against Bolton Wanderers on March 28, 2004, Taylor went on to make more than 190 league appearances in the Premiership with Newcastle United, scoring 12 goals.
"Steven Taylor gives us a proven piece that can step into our backline and perform immediately,” said Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers. “His experience and leadership will be very important to our team down the stretch."
Over his time with Newcastle, Taylor helped the club win the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup and the 2009-10 Football League Championship, which gained the club promotion to the English Premier League after a one-year absence. Taylor also made eight appearances (6 starts) during Newcastle’s run in the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League.
Taylor will occupy an international slot on the Timbers roster.
Transaction: Portland Timbers sign defender Steven Taylor as a Discovery Signing on Aug. 1, 2016.
Height: 6-2Weight: 200
Born: Jan. 23, 1986, in Greenwich, London, England
Last Club: Newcastle United
Acquired: Signed on Aug. 1, 2016