1) Even though there are no games to talk about, I’ll be putting out these columns every Tuesday, just like I did in during the season. They’ll be a whole lot shorter, of course. In fact, there may be some weeks where there’s literally no Timbers news whatsoever, at which point I’ll probably just tell you some fart jokes. But we’re not there yet. This week, there’s news. Sort of.
2) Last week, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson sat down for a nine-minute interview. Give it a watch, then we’ll talk about it a little.
Merritt Paulson joins Timbers in 30 to discuss 2019, off-season plans, reopening of Providence Park, Brian Fernandez, Diego Valeri and more. #RCTID pic.twitter.com/SstU5HsKph— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) October 25, 2019
I’ve got some real quick thoughts on various things Paulson said. If your thoughts differ, awesome. Let’s talk about it down in the comments.
3) First up, Paulson talked about Diego Valeri’s contract situation. He talked about how everyone in the organization wants Valeri back and the team’s already made him an offer.
A possible take? This is great news. Valeri’s wanted!
A second possible take? Maybe by saying all this publicly, the team is setting Valeri up to be the bad guy. Maybe if Valeri doesn’t sign, the team will say it’s his fault. “We wanted him back! We made him an offer! If he didn’t sign, it’s not our fault! It’s his fault!”
A third possible take? Maybe Valeri is the bad guy. Maybe he’s being unreasonable about his contract.
A fourth possible take? How dare you! This is Diego Fucking Valeri we’re talking about! Pay the man whatever he wants!
A fifth possible take? My head hurts from all the takes. I’m gonna go take a nap now. Wake me when this whole thing’s been decided.
I’m not sure which take I’m leaning toward. Probably number five. What about you?
4) Paulson’s interview also makes it sound like the team’s open to bringing in new players for just about every position on the field. In fact, we may already have that young right back he mentioned.
According to reports from Venezuela, 19-year-old Venezuelan international right back Pablo Bonilla is close to signing for the Timbers.— MLS Buzz (@MLS_Buzz) October 26, 2019
Bonilla currently plays in Venezuela and missed his club’s most recent match as the negotiations continued. #RCTID pic.twitter.com/2RmnoAz5wF
At 19 years old, I don’t think this guy’s gonna take Jorge Moreira’s minutes. He’d probably play for T2 and not see the first team until 2021 or 22.
Paulson also mentioned a central defender. Does this mean a center back or a central defensive midfielder? Someone to step in beside Larrys Mabiala, or someone to groom as Diego Chara’s replacement? If it’s the former, that must mean the team’s not 100% sold on Bill Tuiloma. If it’s the latter, it must mean the team’s not 100% sold on Renzo Zambrano. Either way, I’d say they want to bring in additional competition. Same for the center midfielder he mentioned. The team probably wants to bring in competition for Tomas Conechny and Eryk Williamson. All of this seems fine.
Paulson said they want “a productive winger – a right winger, likely,” which is music to my ears. Maybe we’ll finally get rid of my favorite whipping boy, Andy Polo.
And finally, Paulson says they want depth at striker, which makes perfect sense. After Brian Fernandez became unavailable, our only striker was Jeremy Ebobisse. After him, who was there? Dairon Asprilla? Diego Valeri? Gio doesn’t seem to rate Foster Langsdorf, considering he didn’t make the 18 late in the season. So, yeah, striker depth. I’m in.
5) All those pieces we just discussed, could any of them be European? Paulson said at the start of his interview that the only reason he was there was because GM Gavin Wilkinson was in Europe to look at “a player.” Not players, plural, but a player, singular. One specific player.
So, what player is that? Someone we’ve heard of? What position? What league? I’m very intrigued by this and want to hear more.
And I might get to, because Paulson says Gavin Wilkinson and Gio Savarese will have a press conference at some point this week. A year-in-review conference? An offseason-plans conference? I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to it.
When you’re a Timbers-obsessive like I am, any offseason activity is welcome.
6) Paulson finished by saying there would be “exciting news with T2” coming out this week. What would qualify as “exciting?” Are they gonna steal my idea to play T2 games in Salem? Call them the Salem Saints or the Salem Salamanders or Salem FC or something? I’d call that news “exciting.”
He also said he’s really excited about our Academy, and it sounds like this is a new feeling for him. So, you know, that’s cool. I’d love for that machine to start churning out quality players.
And that’s pretty much it. A decent amount of news, considering it’s the offseason.
Was your reaction to the interview different from mine? Got different interpretations? Let’s talk about it down in the comments.