PORTLAND, Ore.— The Portland Timbers have signed English defender Kerrea (KAIR-ree) Gilbert, it was announced today. Gilbert joins the Timbers for their Major League Soccer debut in 2011 from English club Arsenal FC. Timbers general manager/technical director Gavin Wilkinson made the announcement.
Additionally, the Timbers today acquired a natural fourth-round pick from the Houston Dynamo in the 2014 SuperDraft in exchange for defender Jordan Graye.
Gilbert, 23, was a member of Arsenal’s first team for five seasons from 2005-10; he was a product of the English Premier League club’s youth system. Gilbert played in 12 matches for Arsenal, including a pair of UEFA Champions League fixtures, and spent time on loan with English clubs Cardiff City FC (2006-07), Southend United FC (2007-08), Leicester City FC (2008-09) and Peterborough United FC (2009-10). In total, he appeared in 92 matches, registering a goal and an assist during his career in England.
“Kerrea is an experienced, young player who has competed at the highest levels in England,” said Wilkinson. “The Timbers are committed to building an athletic, talented and hard-working squad, and we feel that he will be a great fit for our organization.”
During the 2009-10 season, Gilbert spent most of the campaign with Arsenal, featuring in Carling Cup matches against West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool as well as a UEFA Champions League contest against Greek club Olympiacos FC. He played in 10 games with Peterborough United while on loan to finish the season.
“He will be a great addition to the squad,” said Timbers head coach John Spencer. “Kerrea comes to us from a club with tremendous history and tradition. On the playing side, he’s a typical Arsenal fullback who likes to attack for 90 minutes.”
A native of Hammersmith, England, Gilbert first arrived at Arsenal in 2003, joining the club’s youth side. He made his first team debut on Nov. 29, 2005, at the age of 18, against Reading FC in a Carling Cup match. Gilbert played in nine games during his rookie season in 2005-06, including two starts in EPL play, and earned his first professional point with an assist on a goal by Thierry Henry.
Gilbert was loaned to Leicester City for the 2008-09 season and contributed to a standout season for the club. Playing in 34 league games (33 starts), he was a part of the backline that allowed a league-low 39 goals and helped Leicester City earn a promotion into the Football League Championship (second division) following a first-place finish in Football League One with a record of 27-4-15.
While on loan with Cardiff City during the 2006-07 campaign, Gilbert made 24 league appearances in the Football League Championship. He also played in a total of five cup matches, including a pair of starts against EPL side Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup.
During his youth career, Gilbert represented his country on the England U-17 National Team. He competed in the Algarve Tournament in 2004, which also included the U-17 sides of Portugal, France and Finland. He also saw action in England’s qualification matches for the 2004 U-17 European Championship.
Graye, 23, was acquired by the Timbers in the ninth round of the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft in November from D.C. United. He started 20 games for United as a rookie in 2010, ranking fourth on the team with 1,668 minutes played.
Born: Feb. 28, 1987, in Hammersmith, England
Hometown: London, England
Previous Club: Arsenal FC (England)
Acquired: Signed to an MLS contract by the Timbers on Dec.13, 2010.