Today was Media Day for the Timbers, and while I’m still 2,000 miles away, there were a few things I was very interested in from today—most notably from Gavin Wilkinson and Giovanni Savarese‘s joint press conference. We’ll start with that and work our way through the rest.
The link to the full 10+ minute interview can be found here.
Expect at least 2 more signings
…specifically at right back. Both Gavin and Gio mentioned this number and specific position as an area in which they’re seeking transfers. The Timbers already have Jorge Moreira for at least another six months, but depth will be a problem with the departure of Zarek Valentin.
Gavin also mentioned maybe signing an attacker…lo and behold, a few hours later, multiple sources reported that the Timbers were interested in Jorge Carrascal, a Colombian attacking midfielder currently at River Plate. Those of you with good reading comprehension skills will recognize that he is not a right back, and some are questioning if Portland has the kind of money to splurge on another attacking piece of his caliber right now, especially if the highly likely Jaroslaw Niezgoda signing goes through as a Designated Player.
Still pretty exciting, though!
Valeri’s back, and he really wanted to be
It looks even more like Diego Valeri’s contract dispute was between him being a Designated Player or not. When asked about the importance of Valeri resigning, Wilkinson emphasized how Valeri was “looking at what’s right for the club from a contract perspective…and when MLS release their salary cap numbers, etc. you’ll start to see that he is fully committed…” It sure doesn’t sound like the Timbers broke the bank to retain El Maestro.
Gavin even used the words “fully appreciative” to describe his attitude towards Diego’s new contract. All of this implies that Valeri did the Timbers some sort of favor by keeping a Designated Player slot open (which he did), and it’s now clear that the club thinks that way as well.
In his interview, Valeri highlighted his love for the club and city. He also noted how much easier it was to get into the groove of the season knowing the team wouldn’t have to hit the road to start the year. The longer offseason was another point of emphasis.
Valeri and Blanco both noted how they wanted to go farther in the playoffs than last year. It’s good to hear ambition coming from the leaders of the team on the first day back.
Dario Zuparic will make an instant impact
When asked about what Dario Zuparic can bring to the squad, Gavin seemed to hint at Larrys Mabiala and Zuparic being the two starters. Both Gavin and Gio emphasized how they have four capable players (Zuparic, Mabiala, Bill Tuiloma, and Julio Cascante) at center back. Gio mentioned possibly playing three at the back at some point, also alluding to Tuiloma’s ability to play “in the middle”—by this he could mean the midfield or the center fo defense, both roles he has occupied for the Timbers in the past. He also added a fun anecdote about receiving encouraging texts after signing Zuparic.
Andrés Flores is out
…for 4-6 weeks. Although this was put out as a press release, it happened on the same day, so it pretty much counts as media day news. Flores suffered a torn meniscus with the El Salvadorian National Team and will be unavailable for a month or so after surgery.
This depletes Portland’s depth for the time being, but it’s not a crucial loss to the midfield. We wish Flores the best for a safe and speedy recovery.
As always, Craig Mitchelldyer took some fabulous photos.
For me, the highlights are as follows:
- Yimmi giving Diego a yellow card
- Valeri’s man bun
- Mabiala’s golden dome
- Gio’s beard—which he also mentioned in the presser
It’s pronounced “Jimmy”
Both Blanco and Valeri talked about how similar Diego and Yimmi Chará were, in personality and on the field.
Diego Chará gave some insight into his brother’s attacking ability, but his descriptions of being a “very quick” and “attacking player” were not as nice as the reassurance that “he will score goals.”
Diego said he loved “everything about Portland” and reiterated countless times that he was very excited to be able to play with his brother again.
Yimmi, who doesn’t speak English but communicated through a translator, said Diego played a key role in the Timbers signing him. The younger Chará by five years, Yimmi was a little more soft-spoken than Diego, but he still said he was impressed by the overall organization and was training separately to get his fitness up before joining the first team.
The final question asked if the brothers would perform a Colombian dance if one of them scored. Diego seemed pretty reluctant, citing that Yimmi would probably have to do the scoring, but Yimmi said they would come up with one and practice it.
The full interview is linked here.
Needless to say, this pairing comes with plenty of storylines, even if the season doesn’t pan out on the pitch for whatever reason.