PORTLAND, Ore. – The rumblings surrounding the health status of José Adolfo Valencia continued Saturday as the Portland Timbers’ newly signed Colombian forward missed a fifth day of training.
Portland head coach John Spencer declined to go into details of the nature of the 20-year-old’s absence, only saying the club is still being cautious when red flags were raised after medical testing during the week.
“We’re definitely not taking any chances in that department,” Spencer said after Saturday’s training session at JELD-WEN Field.
Valencia has yet to participate in a full training with the team, only going through Monday’s fitness assessment. Spencer said he’s hoping to get him on the field before the team leaves for Southern California for preseason camp starting Feb. 5 and doesn’t view Valencia’s absence as a major setback.
“I think that it would have been a major setback maybe if he played last year and scored a load of goals,” Spencer said. “We’ve seen him a few times. We liked what we saw. But we’ve never really seen him play in a Timbers jersey. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about him, please don’t get me wrong on that.
We’re just looking at it like we don’t know what we’re missing because you’ve never really had him. So I think it hasn’t had that much of an effect on the team.”
Valencia is certainly one player the Timbers are looking toward to make up the offensive production lost when veteran forward Kenny Cooper was shipped to New York earlier this month. The member of the Colombian U-20 national team made 16 appearances last year for Sante Fe of the Liga Postobón and is considered one of the country’s top young talents.
“I think it’s had an effect on us as a staff because when you bring someone in you want them to do ever so well,” Spencer said. “And we have a little bit of concern about him at the moment. But the main thing is we’re trying to do the right thing by us and by the player.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.