Portland's Wilkinson: Transfer activity just warming up

GM says club will continue to fill holes following Valencia deal

Wilkinson at player signing

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers' big splash so far this offseason was clearly the signing of Colombian José Adolfo Valencia.

But on the heels of a multi-country scouting effort in the two months since the season ended, Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson told MLSsoccer.com that the addition of “El Trencito” may have just warmed the water for a few more splashes.

“We also have a couple more holes to fill and will look to fill those this offseason,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a matter of looking at what could be available in the future. We’ve been keeping an eye on a number of players, one that we’ve had our eye on for close to a year who we think can help us. Whether we can make that happen or not, we’ll wait and see.”

Valencia’s signing has been part of an active international scouting effort, specifically on tapping the Colombian talent pool, by the Timbers front office. Valencia, a 19-year-old forward who became MLS’ first young Designated Player, joins two of his countrymen in Diego Chara and Jorge Perlaza already on the Timbers roster.

“Valencia wasn’t just the result of one scouting trip, it was the result of four scouting trips and many other factors,” Wilkinson said. “It was good timing for him, great timing for us.”

Wilkinson said Valencia, viewed as one of Colombia’s emerging stars, was brought on board to add depth up front. A potential pairing with veteran forward Kenny Cooper, who led the Timbers with eight goals, or even Perlaza (six goals) could provide an intriguing attack.

Valencia has proven himself on the international scene even at a young age, helping Colombia’s U-20s to the 2011 Toulon Tournament championship and a quarterfinal finish in the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Valencia – known as “El Trencito” (little train) thanks to his famous soccer bloodline as the son of two-time World Cup star Adolfo “El Tren” Valencia – made his professional debut as a 16-year-old and has played four seasons for Colombian first-division club Independiente Sante Fe.

“We wouldn’t have signed him if we didn’t think it was necessary,” Wilkinson said. “In every single position the question is as an organization, can you upgrade? We struggled a little bit this year with the number of options we had up front. And basically by adding another quality player, it gives [head coach] John Spencer another option.”

Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at dcitel@hotmail.com.