The Portland Timbers have reportedly made a big trade, and it involves a fan-favorite.
Defender Bill Tuiloma is reportedly being traded to Charlotte FC, with Portland receiving $800,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) up front in return, along with an additional $100,000 if Tuiloma reaches certain incentives with Charlotte.
This news was first reported by Ryan Clarke of The Oregonian/OregonLive.
BREAKING: The Portland Timbers are trading defender Bill Tuiloma to Charlotte FC.— Ryan Clarke (@RyanTClarke) February 16, 2023
In exchange, Portland will receive $800,000 in GAM plus an additional $100,000 based on incentives. #RCTID https://t.co/sh07M5O708
Tuiloma was first signed by the Timbers in 2017, and rose to become a regular starter in the centerback rotation starting in 2019. He made 107 MLS appearances in his Timbers tenure, including 30 appearances (24 starts) last season.
Bill quickly became a fan favorite due to his positive persona off the field and his big contributions on it. Known for his ability to rise high in the air to get his head on set pieces and crosses as well as his recently discovered ability to bang in thunderous free kick goals from afar, Tuiloma came up big in pivotal moments for the Timbers — especially last season.
But now, fans will have to watch him have all of that impact elsewhere, as he appears to be headed for MLS’ second-newest club.
In his report of the trade, Ryan Clarke shares that part of the onus for trading Tuiloma was for the team “to gain additional salary cap flexibility”. With an already tight cap situation this offseason, the Timbers were always going to be looking for ways to make more room financially, in order to have flexibility to strengthen the squad this winter. It now looks like getting Tuiloma’s contract off the books and adding some significant GAM in return was the best way that new GM Ned Grabavoy saw to do so.
Ryan’s piece also shared that the team is now targeting a centerback on the transfer market to replace Tuiloma. This goes onto the shopping list that already includes the ongoing search for a starting-caliber forward that Portland has been on all offseason.
Adding a centerback is important for Portland, despite the names already has on the team. Dario Zuparic and Larrys Mabiala remain on the roster, and Zac McGraw is now in line to step up and win a starting role with the team this season.
But with Tuiloma now headed east, Portland’s centerback corps just became thinner, and the team could stand to add a starting-caliber player at the position to push the rest of the roster and add depth.
With the allocation money that the Timbers are receiving in return for Bill they have significantly more resources to play with to strengthen their team in the coming months.
But in return, the Timbers are parting with someone that fans loved seeing suit up in green and gold. The Timbers have made tough decisions and parted with well-liked players in the past, so it’s nothing new for fans to stomach. But as far as bitter pills go, this is one is up their with the hardest to swallow.