Liam Ridgewell #2, Timbers vs. FCD, 11.22.15
(USA Today Sports Images)

Portland Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell to join Brighton & Hove Albion on offseason loan

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell will join English Football League Championship club Brighton & Hove Albion on a short-term loan, it was announced today. Ridgewell begins training with Brighton this week, with the clubs set to complete the transfer, subject to international clearance, once the window opens Saturday, Jan. 2.

Ridgewell, 31, helped lead the Timbers to their first MLS Cup in his second season in Portland, captaining the club to a 2-1 victory over Columbus Crew SC on Dec. 6 after making 32 regular-season appearances in 2015. A veteran of more than 250 matches in the English Premier League with Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, Ridgewell tallied his first career MLS postseason goal in the 23rd minute of a 3-1 victory over FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship on Nov. 22 at Providence Park.

“Similar to last year, Liam expressed an interest in staying in the UK on a short-term loan to maintain his fitness and to stay sharp leading into the upcoming MLS season,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers general manager. “We feel that this loan works well for all parties involved and we look forward to having Liam rejoin the group towards the end of preseason.”

A native of Bexleyheath in London, Ridgewell, who joined Wigan Athletic on a similar, short-term loan in preparation for the 2015 MLS season, has made 47 regular-season appearances with the Timbers since joining the club in June 2014, tallying two goals and two assists. 

"Prior to last season Liam was able to get valuable offseason games with Wigan and it helped him hit the ground running in 2015. When a similar opportunity came about with Brighton, we felt it would again be advantageous for both Liam and our club,” said Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers. “It was also important to have the loan end before our preseason tournament like last year so we have time to plug Liam back in before our first match."

Ridgewell is expected to miss the first portion of Timbers preseason training camp before returning to Portland for the Simple Invitational and the start of the 2016 season that begins on Sunday, March 6, as Portland plays host to Columbus at Providence Park.