Unlike last week, there are no huge events in Timberdom to talk about, but there are a few odds and ends.
1) The biggest bit of news was Zarek Valentin getting selected in the expansion draft, then immediately being traded to Houston.
I’m not gonna lie, this hurts. Zarek wasn’t just any Timber, he was one of those guys who truly clicked with this city. He got married here, had a baby here, and bought a house here. It seemed like eventually, he’d retire here. Now, maybe he won’t.
As genuine as they come.— Stand Together (@PTStandTogether) November 19, 2019
Thank you @ZarekValentin for your tireless dedication to strengthening our community. As our 3-time Community MVP, it goes without saying that you have left a lasting legacy in Portland. #RCTID pic.twitter.com/wW7sULNN0Q
Should the Timbers have protected Valentin in the expansion draft? Well, if I’m allowed to use outcome bias, then, yes, of course they should have. But did I put Zarek on my mock protected list? No. I’m not sure anyone did, because nobody thought he would get taken. Including, apparently, Gavin Wilkinson.
So, yeah, this sucks, it really does. Do I blame the front office for letting it happen? No. If I didn’t see this coming and you didn’t see this coming, how could they have? It just sucks, is all.
Come back to Portland when you retire, Zarek. You’ll be welcomed with open arms.
2) Also last Tuesday, the Timbers signed a new center back, Croatian Dario Zuparic.
I don’t have strong feelings about this guy, positive or negative, but I think he must have some quality, since he’s probably the player who, in their postseason press conference, Gio and Gavin said they went to Europe for.
Which European center back will Zuparic turn out to be? Liam Ridgewell, brilliant but injury prone? Larrys Mabiala, unspectacular but extremely reliable? Or Steven Taylor, who came to town, made very little impression, then disappeared and was very quickly forgotten?
3) There was more news last Thursday when the Timbers released an updated roster status.
To my eyes, the most notable names to be out of contract are three young guns: goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh – who I always liked – defender Modou Jadama – who I didn’t have much of an opinion on – and striker Foster Langsdorf – who I can’t believe never got significant time with the first team, considering how successful he was in college.
Also out of contract, center back Claude Dielna, who was mostly adequate by the end of last season, but who I’m happy to see go, especially at his price.
My great fear is that Langsdorf’s gonna sign with some other MLS team and start banging in 12 goals a year for the next decade.
4) Another interesting and not too surprising bit from Thursday’s roster status: the team did not exercise Diego Valeri’s DP contract, but do remain in discussions.
This is about what we expected. The team really doesn’t want to use a DP slot on Valeri, even though we’ve now got a 2nd slot, thanks to Brian Fernandez’s departure.
There was also this tweet by Guy-Who-Knows-Stuff Sam Stejskal.
Updating this: Fully expect that this to end up as a TAM deal. Timbers looking like they'll retain Valeri and have two open DP spots for 2020. https://t.co/sFoVpvE2cz— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) November 22, 2019
It wouldn’t surprise me if Valeri’s signed by this time next week. Hopefully, none of these negotiations will cause hard feelings between him and the front office.
5) Quick question: what would you think if we began using Valeri as a super sub?
That is, he begins pretty much every game on the bench, then comes in around the 60th-70th minute. Somebody younger and faster could spend 60 minutes tiring out the opposing defense, then Valeri comes in with fresh legs and wins a bunch of games for us in dramatic fashion.
What do you think of that idea? Because I kinda like it.
Bigger question: what would Diego Valeri think of it? Do you think it would crush his spirit, or would he be willing to accept it?
6) And the last small bit of news from the past week is more a rumor than anything, but it’s a pretty believable rumor. Supposedly, the Timbers will be signing 20-year-old Venezuelan right back Pablo Bonilla
El lateral Pablo Bonilla será nuevo jugador de Portland Timbers en la MLS. Será dirigido por Gio Savarese y será compañero de Renzo Zambrano. Pablo jugó este torneo con Deportivo La Guaira, pero ya no verá acción en lo que queda de torneo. Portland lo haría oficial en unos meses. pic.twitter.com/lklyNHc81R— Mario Alberto Sánchez (@MarioSanchezVe) November 22, 2019
Will it actually happen? I dunno. But if it does, he’d be low on the depth chart. I’m pretty sure our current right back depth chart goes Jorge Moreira, then Marco Farfan, then probably Bill Tuiloma, and then, maybe, possibly, depending on how creative Gio wants to be, Andy Polo.
So with all those guys ahead of him, I imagine Bonilla would be spending most of his time with the Hillsboro HomestarRunners (a.k.a. T2).