The impending addition of Colombian striker Jorge Perlaza could be the highlight of the Portland Timbers’ week of training in Ventura, Calif.
Though there are still legal issues remaining to be resolved before the 26-year-old forward can cut ties with Deportes Tolima of Colombia’s top flight, Perlaza is expected to join the Timbers as a trialist on Thursday.
Portland head coach John Spencer, who traveled with general manager Gavin Wilkinson to watch the forward play, said he was impressed with Perlaza’s speed and technical abilities.
“He’s explosive,” Spencer said. “He looks to get behind a defense and create goal-scoring chances.”
In Perlaza, Spencer also sees a complementary player to forwards Kenny Cooper, Bright Dike and Eddie Johnson. His addition also could give Spencer the option of playing either a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation.
“I think it’s important not to get bogged down in one formation, and it will be up o the players to prove they can [adapt],” Spencer said.
The coach remarked that a month ago, there was growing concern that the Timbers didn’t have any goal-scorers signed. But now, the squad appear ready to add Perlaza to a haul that includes Cooper and No. 2 overall SuperDraft pick Darlington Nagbe, both of whom were acquired last month.
“We’re looking forward to getting [Perlaza] into camp,” Spencer said. “We still need to try to get the paperwork cleared up so that we can have him ready to be part of the team by the start of the season.”
[inline_node:327083]TRAINING PHASE 2 — Build-up to Portland's inaugural season in MLS has moved to Southern California, and Tuesday brought the team’s first two-a-day training regimen.
The Timbers are at Ventura College, 65 miles up the coast from Los Angeles, and will play their first preseason exhibition match on Friday against the Ventura County Fusion of the Premier Development League.
The team held workouts primarily for conditioning purposes in Portland last week at Adidas headquarters. The field there, however, is too small for scrimmaging.
“The last couple days in Portland, guys were champing at the bit,” Spencer said. “When you’re not actually getting out there and playing the game, players tend to get bored.”
In Ventura, Spencer said the team will continue to raise the intensity of the workouts in advance of the preseason dates on the schedule.
NEW FACES — On Saturday and Sunday, Spencer and his staff evaluated more than 80 players who attended an invitational combine.
“You go to these combines hoping to find someone to you can take on and develop,” Spencer said. “I don’t think people realize how tough it is to play at this level. Only a small percentage make it to the professional game.”
The Timbers didn’t retain any of the players who participated. However, the team does have new faces in camp. MLS SuperDraft pick Chris Taylor and three selections from the Supplemental Draft – Spencer Thompson, Raymundo Reza and Robby Lynch – all participated Tuesday. The final draftee, Taylor Mueller, is expected to report on Feb. 14.
Non-roster players involved this week include Alo Bärengrub, Freddie Braun, Josh Cameron, Doug DeMartin, Jake Gleeson, Quavas Kirk, Rodrigo Lopez, Tony McManus, Ian Sarachan and Brian Umony.