PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers have signed goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, defender Ryan Kawulok and midfielder/defender Rodney Wallace to new contracts, it was announced today. Additionally, the club announced it has exercised the contract options on eight players from its 2012 roster and declined the contract option for defender Steven Smith. Per club and league policy, terms of the transactions were not disclosed.
The Timbers have picked up the contract options on goalkeeper Joe Bendik; defenders Futty Danso and Chris Taylor; midfielders Eric Alexander, Kalif Alhassan and Sal Zizzo; and forwards Bright Dike and Brent Richards.
Portland already had 10 players from its 2012 roster under contract for the 2013 campaign: goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts; defenders David Horst, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Hanyer Mosquera; midfielders Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe and Franck Songo’o; and forwards Kris Boyd and Sebastián Rincón.
Smith, 27, started all 22 of his appearances for the Timbers in 2012, registering two assists. He was signed by the club on April 25, 2012.
“There are difficult decisions to make regarding the roster every off-season. Steven is a quality player and we sincerely thank him for all his contributions to the club last season and we wish him all the best,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers general manager.
Alexander, 24, made a career-high 24 appearances and logged a team-best six assists for the Timbers in 2012 and received the club’s Unsung Hero award. The three-year MLS veteran first joined Portland in a trade with FC Dallas on Aug. 19, 2011, after helping FC Dallas reach the 2010 MLS Cup final.
Alhassan, 22, played in 16 matches, registering one goal and two assists during the 2012 regular season for the Timbers. He was named MLS Player of the Week for Week 1 by the North American Soccer Reporters for his one-goal, one-assist performance in the club’s season-opening win over Philadelphia.
Bendik, 23, started three of his five regular-season appearances for Portland in his first MLS season. He earned honorable mention on the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week for Week 29 after road performances against San Jose and Real Salt Lake in September.
Danso, 29, played 853 minutes over 10 matches for the Timbers in 2012. A member of The Gambia National Team, Danso has appeared in 34 matches, scoring three goals, over two MLS seasons with Portland. He first joined the club in 2009, when the club competed as a second-division side.
Dike, 25, scored five goals in 12 appearances during the second half of the season to finish third on the team in goal-scoring. He also spent 10 games on loan with the L.A. Blues of USL PRO last season, recording six goals and two assists. In total, Dike has scored six goals in 23 career MLS matches over two seasons with Portland.
Gleeson, 22, has played in four regular-season matches during his two MLS seasons with the Timbers, logging 12 saves and a 1-0-2 record. He earned multiple call-ups with the New Zealand National Team in 2012 and was a member of New Zealand’s roster for the London 2012 Olympics.
Kawulok, 23, started and played every minute of the 2012 MLS Reserve League season with the Timbers Reserves, logging 900 minutes over 10 matches. A product of the Timbers U-23s, Kawulok played in three non-league matches with the first team, recording an assist in a friendly against Aston Villa FC.
Richards, 22, was named Portland’s 2012 Young Player of the Year after making six regular-season appearances (2 starts) and logging 201 minutes as a rookie last season. Signed as the club’s first Homegrown Player, Richards also scored four goals for the Timbers Reserves in 2012.
Taylor, 23, missed a majority of the 2012 campaign due to a hip injury. Selected by Portland in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Taylor has made 16 appearances for the Timbers Reserves, logging one assist in his two seasons with the club.
Wallace, 24, played his second season with the Timbers in 2012, making 19 appearances (14 starts) and recording one goal and one assist. The Costa Rica international has played in 44 regular-season games with Portland, registering three goals and three assists over his two seasons with the club.
Zizzo, 25, returned from a season-ending knee injury in 2011 to play in 20 games for the Timbers in 2012, scoring his first MLS goal and ranking among club leaders with four assists. Over two seasons with Portland, Zizzo has compiled one goal and seven assists over 50 regular-season matches.