PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers announced today the signing of 19-year-old Colombian forward Jose Adolfo Valencia as a young Designated Player. Per club and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson made the announcement.
Valencia, who becomes Portland’s second Designated Player, shined for Colombia’s U-20 National Team in 2011, helping the team to the 2011 Toulon Tournament championship and a quarterfinal finish in the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Regarded as one of Colombia’s top young players, Valencia made his professional debut at the age of 16 and played four seasons (2008-11) for Colombian first-division club Independiente Santa Fe.
Valencia will be added to the Timbers’ roster pending the successful completion of a physical.
“We are excited about acquiring our first young Designated Player,” said Wilkinson. “Jose is a very gifted player who possesses great athleticism and maturity on the field for a player of his age. He is an imposing player on the field, has a tremendous upside and we look forward to watching his continued development in MLS.”
In 2011, Valencia helped Santa Fe to its fourth playoff appearance in the last four seasons, as Santa Fe reached the semifinals of the Liga Postobón’s Clausura campaign. Between multiple national team call-ups, Valencia played in 16 league matches over the course of the season and scored a goal. He played in both matches of Santa Fe’s quarterfinal playoff series against Itagüí and saw action in the second leg of the semifinal series against Once Caldas.
The Bogotá, Colombia, native was a key figure for his country in the recent U-20 World Cup, starting four of his five appearances in the tournament. Valencia scored the game-winning goal against Mali in the group stage, securing Colombia’s place in the knockout rounds. At the 2011 Toulon Tournament in France, Valencia played in four games and scored the decisive goal in a semifinal victory over Mexico’s U-20 side as the Colombia U-20 National Team went on to secure the tournament title.
“Jose is a young player we've been monitoring for the last 12 months. It is nice to finally say he's a Timbers player,” said John Spencer, head coach of the Timbers. “He is powerful and quick and should be a nice complement to the attacking players we have with the club already. It is important to give him time to settle into a new culture and country and not put too much pressure on him too soon; he has tremendous potential."
As a teenager, Valencia has been a contributor for Santa Fe, his hometown club, over the past four seasons. He played in 18 games in his second professional season in 2009, as Santa Fe finished the Clausura campaign in second place and claimed the 2009 Copa Colombia, a tournament contested by 36 of Colombia’s top professional clubs.
Valencia made 38 total league appearances during his time with Santa Fe, aiding in postseason appearances by the club each season from 2008-11. He factored in strong finishes by Santa Fe in each of its last three Clausura campaigns, helping the club qualify for the Copa Sudamericana tournament – one of the elite South American club tournaments – in 2010 and 2011.
He becomes the Timbers’ second Designated Player, joining midfielder and fellow countryman Diego Chara, who signed as the club’s first Designated Player in its MLS history on April 13, 2011.
Nicknamed “El Trencito” (the Little Train), Valencia is the son of popular former Colombian international Adolfo Valencia, who played in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups. Adolfo Valencia, known as “El Tren” (the Train), had a 16-year professional career (1988-2004), which included stints with Santa Fe, Germany’s Bayern Munich, Spain’s Atlético Madrid and in MLS with the MetroStars from 2000-01.
Jose Adolfo Valencia
Full Name: Jose Adolfo Valencia Arrechea
Pronunciation: HO-say a-DOL-fo va-LEN-see-ah
Born: Dec. 18, 1991 in Bogotá, Colombia
Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia
Last Club: Independiente Santa Fe (Colombia)