PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers announced today the signing of Colombian midfielder Diego Chará as the club’s first designated player in its Major League Soccer history. Per club and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Timbers general manager/technical director Gavin Wilkinson made the announcement.
Chará will be added to the Timbers roster and will be eligible for selection upon the receipt of his P-1 visa.
Chará, 25, joins the Timbers from Colombian first-division club Deportes Tolima, where he helped orchestrate one of the most prolific offenses in the Liga Postobón. Playing in a team-high 42 games in 2010, Chará was instrumental in Tolima’s production of a league-best 88 goals scored over the course of the campaign and in the club’s first-place overall finish in the standings.
Prior to joining the Timbers, Chará scored two goals in nine league matches for Tolima as the club led the Liga Postobón in scoring through the first 11 games of the 2011 Apertura season with 23 goals. He also played in seven games in the 2011 Copa Libertadores, tallying an assist in a 2-0 win over Brazilian power Corinthians in the early stages of the tournament.
“Diego possesses a tireless work ethic, speed and exceptional technical ability,” said Wilkinson. “He has consistently performed at a high level in Colombia and we’ve watched him closely for the past six months. We’ve stated that should a player become available that is exciting, young, talented, attack-minded and worth an investment of this type, we would definitely look to sign him. Diego is the right fit for the city and this organization.”
Chará, a native of Cali, Colombia, recently played for the Colombian National Team, starting in a friendly against Peru on Nov. 17, 2010, in Bogota, Colombia.
“His abilities and work rate will make him the perfect box-to-box midfielder for us,” said Timbers head coach John Spencer. “I believe that he will not only make us a better team, but once we get him accustomed to the league, culture and system, I believe he could be one of the best midfielders in the league.”
He started his professional career at the age of 17 with Deportes Quindío in 2004 and has appeared in 206 league matches over eight seasons in Colombia’s first division, playing for Quindío (2004-08), América de Cali (2009) and Tolima (2010-11). Chará has also competed in two of South America’s top tournaments in the Copa Libertadores (2009, 2011) and Copa Sudamericana (2010).
A dependable playmaker in the Liga Postobón, Chará played in at least 30 matches in five of his seven seasons in the league. He paced América de Cali in both games and minutes played during a standout season in 2009, while guiding an offense that scored 44 total goals in 36 games. Chará also appeared in 30 games during his final season with Quindío in 2008, in which he aided in a postseason appearance for the club.
Chará competed in elite club competitions in each of the last three seasons. Before being transferred to Tolima, he participated in the 2009 Copa Libertadores with América de Cali. The following season, Chará started six games in Tolima’s run to the quarterfinal of the 2010 Copa Sudamericana.
With the Timbers, Chará reunites with countryman Jorge Perlaza, whom he has played with previously in his career. The two were teammates with Quindío in 2006 and then again with Tolima in 2010.
Full Name: Diego Ferney Chará Zamora
Born: April 5, 1986
Hometown: Cali, Colombia
Last Club: Deportes Tolima (Colombia)