The Portland Timbers on Friday acquired defensive midfielder and centerback Lawrence Olum from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for the Timbers’ natural 2018 first-round draft pick and $50,000 in general allocation money.
Olum, 32, returns to Portland after seeing his role in Kansas City expand over the course of the last two years, logging 19 all-competitors starts in 2016 after returning to Sporting from Kedah FA in Malaysia. Olum notched a pair of goals and an assist in each of his last two MLS seasons (2014 and 2016) for SKC, while seeing significant minutes for Peter Vermes’s team.
With the Timbers in 2017 Olum is expected to provide depth both in defensive central midfield and centerback, although the Timbers are reportedly primarily expecting Olum to be depth in midfield.
Olum played for the USL Timbers in 2007 and 2008, making 44 appearances over two seasons and scoring six goals.
The value of what the Timbers gave up very much remains to be seen. Although the modest $50,000 in general allocation money provides a floor for the value of the exchange, the value of the Timbers’ first-round pick will depend greatly on Portland’s performance in 2017. If Caleb Porter’s rebuilt side finds success, the Olum deal could present reasonable value. If, however, the Timbers struggle and wind up with a high draft pick, Sporting Kansas City will easily come out on the better end of the trade.
But, more immediately, Olum’s return will provide depth for the Timbers at two positions where cover is needed.