Commentary: Colombians in MLS

Chara, Perlaza, and others making impact

Diego Chara - Timbers @ Sounders, 5.14.11

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Now that the Portland Timbers are part of the MLS, we have noticed something about the team, and about the league in general; the signing of Colombian players.

Currently, there are a large number of players from Colombia, which is interesting when you would expect the MLS, for geo-economic purposes, to contract more Mexican players. It is no secret that the Hispanic community in the United States is the largest minority, with approximately 80% having Mexican roots.

Then, what could be the reason(s) that the MLS has taken an interest in the coffee country? The following, is what the Timbers’ technical director, Gavin Wilkinson, had to say about the question:

“We looked at the players’ attributes and we also took into consideration the amount of success that Colombian players have had on other teams, such as: (Fredy) Montero in Seattle, David Ferreira in Dallas. Furthermore, the Mexican league has a higher economic profile; therefore, their players are more expensive. This is why Colombia was such a great alternative because of the players’ technique, their creativity, and that’s what the Timbers were looking for: skillful, strong and creative.

We also had the opportunity to speak with some of the Colombian players, like Jhon Kennedy Hurtado of the Seattle Sounders, David Ferreira of FC Dallas and the two latest signings of the Portland Timbers, Jorge Perlaza and Diego Chara. We asked them individually, what their opinions were in respect to the level of play that they have encountered in the MLS, this is what we were able to deduce: The MLS is offering a great level of play. Everyone was surprised at the speed in which the play on the field develops and consequently, they all said that it has cost them a lot of effort to adjust to the style of play.

Wilkinson said it best, the success of other players on different teams made the Timbers pay attention to two of them:  Jorge Perlaza, who has already made history with the Portland Timbers by becoming the player to score the inaugural goal at JELD-WEN Field in the match against the Chicago Fire, which they ended up winning 4-2. Jorge reflecting on the moment, “For me, it was such a great pleasure to score in the first game and, lucky for me, it was the first goal of the team.” How did you feel the crowd respond to this? “An energy like no other, very positive and thank God that I was able to score two goals and help the team get the win.”

Obviously, a great home start for the Timbers and Jorge, who not only has the support of his coaches and teammates and his cousin John Hurtado of the Seattle Sounders, but also now is accompanied by his friend Diego Chara, who also comes from Deportes Tolima. Diego also had a few words for us regarding his signing and expectations with the Timbers. “I am very happy to be here, I have heard very good things in respect to the league and the level of play; I believe it is a great deal faster than what is played in Colombia, but I am going to work hard to be able to bring the best I have to offer and to help my team.”

Both Jorge and Diego are very keen to help the team get victories and are working hard in that respect, including already taking English classes that will be very important in order to achieve the desired success on and off the pitch.

Diego, in only a few days, is able to communicate on the field with few words, such as: Man-on! Right! and Left! This is to prove that he is dedicated to immersing himself in the culture of the MLS and the United States.

To us, the soccer fans, we care little about where the players come from, the important thing is that they compete well on the field and that we all enjoy the beautiful spectacle of the best sport in the world (for us), Soccer. Therefore, we have nothing else to do apart from thank the owners, the city and all of the people that made it possible for us to go to JELD-WEN Field with our families and enjoy the sport that we love.