Mike Chabala, Timbers vs. Independiente, 7.26.11
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Timbers gave Chabala option to leave, says GM Wilkinson

PORTLAND, Ore. – The rebuilding of the Portland Timbers continues.

The latest player to be shipped out is left back Mike Chabala, who moved to D.C. United on Thursday a little more than a year after he was brought to Portland in a trade last season.

While Chabala’s departure didn’t move the social-media meter in quite the overwhelming fashion as the trade of goalkeeper Troy Perkins, a mainstay since the club entered MLS last year, the 28-year-old defender was immediately embraced by Timbers supporters for his gregarious personality and workman-like characteristics on the field.

But after starting 13 games for the Timbers last year following his July trade from Houston, Chabala had just six starts this year.

“Mike Chabala is a very likable person, and again we keep saying ‘good professionals’ about all these guys,” interim coach and general manager Gavin Wilkinson said after the team’s training session on Thursday. “And it’s very true, Mike carried himself extremely well. He wasn’t getting the playing time here, and for him it was frustrating. But he kept professional, and that was very, very important.”

Still, Wilkinson said Chabala wasn’t shoved out the door.

“It was an opportunity I presented to Mike, and he decided it was something where he wanted to take the opportunity,” Wilkinson said. “It wasn’t something where we went to Mike and said, ‘Look, you’re going to D.C.’ It was a matter of, ‘Mike this is a situation, what do you want?’ And it was a situation that he decided was best for him right now.”

In Chabala’s place comes New Zealand international left back Ian Hogg, signed fresh off a stint at the London Olympics alongside Timbers backup goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. Hogg, 22, has played in New Zealand’s top division, the ASB Premiership, for six years.

Hogg featured in all three group stage matches for the “Oly Whites” at the London 2012 Olympics.

“We had the opportunity to bring in a young left back to put him in an environment just to see how he does,” Wilkinson said about Hogg. “It gives us a chance to look at somebody in that position for next year.”

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