As first reported by Paul Tenorio on Twitter and then confirmed by the Oregonian’s Jamie Goldberg, Portland Timbers Designated Player Brian Fernandez voluntarily entered Major League Soccer’s substance abuse and behavioral health (SABH) program. Now that he is in the program, he will be unavailable for team selection until cleared to play by program physicians, which means he’s likely to miss most or all of the Timbers’ playoff games. The club issued a brief statement:
NEW YORK – Portland Timbers forward Brian Fernandez has voluntarily entered MLS’ Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (“SABH”) Program.
Fernandez will be unavailable for team activities until he has undergone an assessment and is cleared for participation by the SABH Program doctors.
Portland Timbers Club statement:
Our number one priority is Brian’s emotional and physical well-being. Our thoughts are with him.
As was reported at the time of the signing, Fernandez had a history of substance issues while playing Argentina. Further reporting by Jamie Goldberg and Paul Tenorio suggests that the Timbers did extensive research on those issues, and may have even added stipulations to his transfer agreement to protect against any related issues. However, just what those protections could be remains unclear.