This story has been updated with details from the Timbers’ official release
The Portland Timbers are in the midst of a youth movement. And that movement took another step forward on Monday evening.
A source with knowledge of the deal tells Stumptown Footy that the Timbers have acquired the homegrown-player rights to University of Maryland and United States U-20 midfielder Eryk Williamson from D.C. United. This follows a report Monday evening from Steven Goff at The Washington Post in which Goff quotes D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper as saying United and the Timbers are “very close” to a deal.
That deal, the source tells Stumptown Footy, is done.
Goff reports the Timbers will acquire Williamson’s rights from D.C. United in exchange for an undisclosed amount of allocation money and “other assets,” including a sell-on percentage if Williamson is transferred overseas. Portland, in turn, will sign Williamson to a first-team homegrown-player contract.
On Tuesday morning the Timbers made the Williamson trade official. The Timbers acquired Williamson in exchange for $100,000 in targeted allocation money, $100,000 in general allocation money, the Timbers’ natural 2020 second-round MLS SuperDraft pick, and a 2018 international roster slot.
Williamson comes to the Timbers after the midfielder decided to forego his senior season with the Terps. United held Williamson’s homegrown rights as a product of their academy but failed to reach an agreement with the 20-year-old versatile midfielder. As a result, D.C. opted to cash in by trading Williamson’s rights to the Timbers.
Williamson made 17 appearances for the U.S. U-20 National Team from 2016 through 2017, including appearances in all five games at the U-20 World Cup. The former Terrapin was a regular starter for Tab Ramos’s youth-international side throughout qualifying and into the World Cup. Williamson, a midfielder who excels in transition and possession, logged a goal and two assists for the youth international side, with his goal being voted the 2017 U.S. Youth National Team Goal of the Year:
In Williamson’s three-year career with the Terps, the Alexandria, Virginia, native scored 14 goals and registered 13 assists. In his junior season in 2017, Williamson was named to the All-Big Ten first team while being honored as the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year.
After hiring an agent in December, however, Williamson delayed in accepting a homegrown offer from United while weighing options in Europe where Williamson reportedly saw interest from Scandinavia and Bundesliga side Schalke. As of early-January Williamson was expected to take up one of those offers in Europe.
Instead, Portland will be his destination.
Williamson will step into a crowded Timbers midfield in which there will be significant competition for first-team playing time. Whether he can immediately break into the rotation remains to be seen, but the Timbers’ swoop to acquire Williamson shows they see him as a possible long-term addition to a midfield that figures to have significant turnover in the next few years.
Where exactly Williamson settles in the midfield at the professional level remains to be seen, though. Although he has been an attack-minded midfielder to date, Williamson isn’t primarily a playmaker. Rather, he could settle into a deeper role if he demonstrates the ability to tend to the defensive responsibilities of a box-to-box central midfielder, or as a central-leaning wide midfielder who helps primarily in possession and transition.
Williamson’s acquisition is another phase in an offseason youth movement for the Timbers that has already brought four players 24-years-old or younger to Portland. If this youth movement is successful, the next generation of Timbers is already arriving in the Rose City.