PORTLAND, Ore. – As the Timbers prepare to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday, the team is eager to bring its new Designated Player up to speed.
Diego Chará, a Colombian who played for Deportes Tolima along with Timbers forward Jorge Perlaza, is a box-to-box central midfielder who will play alongside captain Jack Jewsbury. Last Friday, the newest Timber flew from Colombia to meet up with Portland in Los Angeles and played in the second half of a 3-0 loss to the Galaxy.
In previous games, Jewsbury was paired with James Marcelin, a defensive-minded midfielder, but a partnership in the center of the park between Jewsbury and Chará and could make the entire squad a bit more dynamic.
“I think it makes us versatile,” coach John Spencer said of the Jewsbury-Chará combo. “The two of them are both good players. Jack can get shots from distance and get himself in the box and Diego can do a little bit of both, too.”
Jewsbury, who has 201 MLS games under his belt, has been scoring goals at a higher rate than he ever did when he was with Kansas City. He has two goals in six MLS games for Portland, and notched a third goal in a US Open play-in game.
Chará is known as holding midfielder who makes the players around him better with his creative attacking style. He scored five goals in 51 appearances for Tolima from 2010-11. Jewsbury expects to combine well with his new teammate.
“The way it’s shaping up so far, I think we’ll both have the freedom to go [forward], but when one sees the other in front, then you better be sitting so we don’t leave ourselves exposed,” Jewsbury said.
Communication is another issue the team is dealing with. Chará – and Perlaza, too – are learning English, and all Jewsbury knows how to say in Spanish is “right” and “left,” he admits.
“Some of us are learning words here and there to help each other,” Jewsbury said. “But in our stadium, it’s going to be so loud at times [verbal communication] is going to be hard. [Chará has] played long enough and so have I. We know where we should be. We just need to make sure we’re working off each other.”