The Portland Timbers’ major offseason business is almost complete. On Friday, the Timbers signed Cristhian Paredes, their targeted-allocation-money-level box-to-box midfielder, on loan from Liga MX powerhouse Club America with an option to buy.
The Timbers’ interest in Paredes, 19, has been reported as far back as December but picked up considerable steam within the last two weeks as reports out of Paraguay and Mexico emerged indicating the Timbers were on the verge of signing the central midfielder.
The young Paraguayan made his professional debut for Club Sol de America at the age of 17, when he started 30 games and scored four goals for los Danzarines. His performances for Sol earned Paredes a move to Club America at the age of 18.
The central midfielder arrived in Mexico City under former manager Ricardo La Volpe, for whom Parades made a pair of Copa MX appearances with las Aguilas that spring and scored a momentary equalizer against Santos Laguna in the second of those appearances. By May, however, La Volpe was out, and so, too, were Paredes’s fortunes with the first team as new manager, Miguel Herrera, didn’t rate the young Paraguayan player.
As much of a disappointment as the spring of 2017 was for Paredes on the club scene, it carried with it a milestone for him on the international scene. After repeatedly appearing for Paraguay’s youth teams from 2015 through early-2017, Paredes earned his first call into the senior national team in June 2017.
Still, Paredes couldn’t break into America’s first team, leading to the Timbers’ swoop for the box-to-box midfielder. With Diego Chara entering his age 32 season, the Timbers came into the offseason looking to set up their eventual succession plan in central midfield. With this winter’s infusion of TAM, the Timbers took the extra resources available to them and did what they’ve done more than once this offseason: acquired a high-upside, young player to not only reinforce the team this year, but also to eventually become a key part of the starting lineup.
The jump to MLS, however, will be a real step up for Paredes. Lacking significant senior-international experience or professional playing time outside the Paraguayan Primera Division, MLS will be the highest level at which Paredes has consistently competed in his young career.
Although Paredes will slot into the central-midfield depth chart behind Chara and David Guzman, he could be in line for meaningful playing time in 2018 with the latter heading to the World Cup with Costa Rica this summer. How smoothly Paredes transitions to MLS, then, could be a major factor in determining the success of the Timbers’ 2018 season.
For now, though, the offseason is nearing a close. With Paredes on board and with the team in Tucson, the Timbers have only the signing of a TAM-level striker to spell Fanendo Adi before their major winter acquisitions are complete.
It’s almost time to see what these guys can do on the field.