Portland Timbers Offseason Shakeup
By Jason Harrel
The Portland Timbers continue to make headlines, not just on the field, but off the field as they have announced multiple moves this December.
So far this offseason, the Timbers have announced the arrivals of former Seattle Sounders players' Steve Zakuani and Jorge Villafana as well as the departures of David Horst, Sal Zizzo and Andrew Jean Baptiste.
On Dec. 12, the Timbers announced the arrival of Seattle forward Zakuani and Chivas USA defender Villafana and sent center back Jean-Baptiste south to Chivas USA.
The Timbers selected Zakuani with the second pick in stage one of the 2013 MLS re-entry process after trading Jean Baptiste and their 17th pick to Chivas USA in exchange for the No. 2 pick and Villafana.
Zakuani played with the Sounders from 2009-2013 appearing in 80 regular season games and recording 17 goals and 14 assists during that time. The move to Portland will reunite him with current Timbers head coach Caleb Porter, where they won a National Championship at Akron together.
Along with the presence that Zakuani will bring, the Timbers are hoping for the same ubiquity from Villafana at the left back position when he takes the pitch at JELD-WEN Field.
Villafana spent the last two seasons with Chivas where he compiled a career-best four assists and scored one goal in 20 appearances last season.
Porter and Villafana also have ties to Porter during their run with the U.S. U-23 team.
On Dec. 17, the Timbers announced that they acquired a fourth-round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft from the Houston Dynamo in exchange for the rights to Horst.
Horst was with the club from their first season in 2011. Through his three years, Horst played in 39 regular season matches, but was hit with injuries most of his career in Portland. He missed most of 2013 while recovering from a broken leg.
Along with the trade of Horst, the Timbers announced that they have shipped midfielder Zizzo to the current MLS Cup Champions Sporting Kansas City in exchange for allocation money.
Zizzo, 26, joined the Timbers in 2011 by virtue of trade with Chivas USA, where he spent his 2010 season after playing for several seasons in Germany. While with the Timbers, Zizzo made 60 league appearances in three seasons, scoring two goals and recording seven assists. His last goals came in the 78th minute of a 4-2 loss to Real Salt Lake back in August.