Spencer: Findley & Bornstein have "value"
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland Timbers coach John Spencer and general manager Gavin Wilkinson were all smiles following Wednesday’s MLS Expansion Draft. The Timbers spent the day acquiring young, talented primarily defensive-minded players with careers still on the upswing.
The expansion club used the No. 1 pick to select midfielder Dax McCarty, who played in Sunday’s MLS Cup forFC Dallas. Within hours, they traded him away to D.C. United for 22-year-old defender Rodney Wallace and a fourth-round SuperDraft choice.
Following that selection, Portland picked up young, talented players Eric Brunner (Columbus Crew), Adam Moffat (Columbus Crew), Anthony Wallace (Colorado Rapids) and David Horst (Real Salt Lake). Brunner, Wallace and Horst are all back line players while Moffat is a midfielder.
“We came out of the expansion draft like, in our eyes, there was only one team in it,” Spencer said. “We got the guys that we wanted. It’s not pie-in-the-sky. It’s not a smokescreen. We got the guys we were looking to get.”
The Timbers went for the best value with the first pick, selecting McCarty, who was regarded as the most valuable player available.
“Some of the players we liked and got, other players had a value, whether for allocation money or a trade,” Wilkinson said. “Four out of those five players (chosen) will stay in Portland and then there will be a little bit of movement.”
Wilkinson said he and the coaching staff established a list of five players that they wanted off of he available players list, and the Timbers obtained all five.
The Timbers got creative in the sixth round, selecting forward Robbie Findley from Real Salt Lake. And again, in the eighth round, Portland chose Jonathan Bornstein from Chivas. Findley has indicated that he leans toward moving to Europe. Bornstein has a deal in place with Tigres of the Mexican Primera División.
Spencer said those selections were made with an eye on the future. If one, or both, of the U.S. players decide to return to MLS, the Timbers will have the rights to them. Findley, who played collegiately at nearby Oregon State, and Bornstein, played in the World Cup over the summer.
“Young national team players, they could go overseas for 10 years, they could go overseas for 10 months,” Spencer said. “So, I hope they go overseas and maybe we get them back in 10 months or a year’s time. I think anything’s impossible in the game.”
Regardless, the choices could hold considerable value.
“They might never come back to help us, and hopefully we might never need these guys, but they’ll be of value to us if they come back to the league,” Spencer said.
Wilkinson said there was very little to risk with making the two selections.
“I don’t think there were any gambles,” he said. “The players that you will see stay in Portland are the players we want here and the players we believe in.”
The Timbers selected Peter Lowry, a midfielder from Chicago, with their seventh-round choice.
And Lowry wasted no time relaying his feelings. Within minutes, he posted to his Twitter account: “Portland! Very excited for the new challenge.”
“We got a number of guys today who could be here a long, long time,” Spencer said. “For us, it’s about getting the guys into the system that we want to play.”
Spencer elaborated on that system by saying he sought “young, athletic, modern-type” players.
“It’s important that we play for 2011 to 2012 to 2020,” he said. “We’ve brought guys to the club that have a blue-collar, hard-working mentality.”
The Timbers may have a starting back line as a result of Wednesday’s additions.
Wilkinson said he was “delighted” to have Brunner and that Horst, who played in Puerto Rico last year, was “one of the best defenders I saw all year.”
Spencer and Wilkinson both indicated it could be fluid couple of weeks with numerous player transactions. The Timbers hope to take about 35 players to training camp, with a final group whittled down to about 18-20 senior players.
As of Wednesday, the team has 13 players, assuming that Findley and Bornstein move out of MLS.