The final whistle on the Portland Timbers 2017 season was accompanied by a number of realities, perhaps none clearer than the need to add depth in midfield. This year, the team will have another talented option to call on, one whose move from a Mexican titan is finally official.
Cristhian Paredes, a 19-year-old central midfielder from Paraguay, has officially joined the Timbers, it was announced today. The former Club América man, who debuted for Paraguay’s senior national team in Feb. 2017, moves to MLS after one year in Mexico, joining Portland as a Targeted Allocation Money signing.
“Thanks to God, I’m really happy to be here,” Parades said this week from Tucson, Ariz., where the Timbers are preparing for the 2018 MLS season. “I’m here and I’m ready to go.”
Paredes was a heralded signing from Club América when he arrived in Mexico City last February, but a combination of Mexico’s foreign player limits and a change of coach left the Paraguayan international in a unique space of availability. Roughly one year later, the midfielder finds himself in green and gold, with the Timbers set to benefit from las Aguilas’ midfield gridlock.
“I was training with my club, América, and I talked to my representatives,” Parades said, recalling how his move north happened. “He said, ‘Cristhian, get ready, we’re going to MLS.’ I’m here now, and I’m very happy.”
Paredes gives Portland an element of youth and depth in the central and holding midfield spots and with David Guzmán likely to join Costa Rica this summer in Russia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the newest Timber is in line to see more time in Portland than he did in the Mexican capital.
For América, Paredes scored four times in 11 appearances over three tournaments as part of their U-20 squad. Last March, Paredes also scored a memorable, last minute equalizer for the América senior team in a Copa MX game against Santos, one of two appearances he made in that competition.
“Wherever I go, especially in Portland, I’m looking to win a title,” Parades explained, describing his feelings about the move. “I see Portland as one of the top teams, one of the teams with the most potential. I’m really looking to make an impact and just start winning.”
Winning is something Parades has experience with from his time in Paraguay, where he started all six games for Primera División side Sol de America during the team’s run to the Round of 16 of the Copa Sudamericana in 2016. Internationally, Parades debuted for the Paraguay national team against France just over one year ago and has featured prominently at youth levels, making two appearances and scoring once at the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile and captaining his U-20 team for four games (scoring once) during South American qualifying for the 2017 U-20 World Cup.
He's a player who, stylistically should offer a nice complement to Diego Chara and David Guzmán – a taller player, one who can not only win balls in midfield but, with his size and touch, have an impact in the penalty box. And already, Portland’s new acquisition is discovering how to fit best fit with his fellow midfield partners.
“I’ve learned a lot – how they work, their rhythms,” Paredes explained when asked about Guzmán, Chara, and Lawrence Olum. “They work well together, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that, with them.”