Timbers shore up defense with Borchers
The Portland Timbers shored up their defense with the acquisition of veteran center back Nat Borchers and now wait to see the outcome of today's MLS Expansion Draft.
The trade for Borchers was one of several player moves the Timbers made on Monday during the league's half-day trade window. Portland also signed Ghanaian goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey from the Norwegian Premier League, Colombian winger/forward Dairon Asprilla, and Brazilian defender Jeanderson Salvador Pereira.
The Timbers sent allocation money to Real Salt Lake in exchange for Borchers, a starter who was a key contributor to the 2009 MLS Cup-winning team.
Borchers, a two-time MLS defender of the year, was a fixture for RSL for the past seven seasons. He'll help a Timbers team that gave up 52 goals in 24 matches last season.
"He'll bring some specific things that we feel are important in adding to our team," coach Caleb Porter said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. "He's very focused. He's disciplined. His mentality is second to none. Having that type of player in our back line, game in and game out, we think will help our chances of defending better, which will help our chances of getting more points."
In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, general manager Garth Lagerwey said Borchers would have undoubtedly been snatched up in the expansion draft. But three teams were interested, so RSL let the hard-nosed 33-year-old defender choose where he wanted to go.
Borchers posted his thanks to the team and Salt Lake City on his Facebook page.
"I'm grateful to ownership, to the front office, and to the coaching staff. Thanks to the Utah community for always being so good to me and my family. Thanks to my teammates for their belief in me. Finally, thanks to the RSL fans who always had our backs — win or lose. This is a special place and I'll miss you all dearly," he wrote.
The Timbers also traded defender Michael Harrington to the Colorado Rapids for allocation money. An eight-year MLS veteran, Harrington appeared in 25 matches last season with two assists.
The team exercised the purchase option on defender Alvas Powell from his Jamaican club and signed him to a long-term deal, while picking up the 2015 contract options on midfielders George Fochive, Michael Nanchoff, Rodney Wallace and Ben Zemanski, defender Taylor Peay and goalkeepers Jake Gleeson and Andrew Weber.
The team re-signed defender Jorge Villafana, who was out of contract.
Portland could only protect 11 players on its roster ahead of Wednesday's expansion draft, during which Orlando City SC and New York FC will build their clubs.
Left unprotected were goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, Villafana and forward Gaston Fernandez.
"We don't want to lose anyone, but you have to be smart, the best you can in putting out a list that will not leave yourself exposed," Porter said.