PORTLAND, Ore. – Amidst the ever-changing landscape of sports journalism these days, an increasingly large swath is being carved out built on innuendo, anonymous sourcing and just plain conjecture.
That’s fine; it gives readers plenty to talk about.
Here in the Rose City – thanks to a loosely based connection here and a tweet or two there – they’re talking about Gastón Fernández. And while the more traditional reader may wonder who this Fernández guy is and why they’re talking about him in the Pacific Northwest, those who don’t pick up their news on the driveway every morning are already debating the merits of a Diego Valeri-Darlington Nagbe-Steve Zakuani-Gastón Fernández front four.
Yes, the Internet has named Fernández, currently of Estudiantes de La Plata in Argentina’s Primera División, as the Portland Timbers' next star forward. And while the team’s official stance when asked by MLSsoccer.com is “no comment,” it all started with a report out of Argentina linking Fernández to MLS, albeit to no specific team. Fernández reportedly said the offer to play stateside was "impossible to refuse."
Then there was the Twitter follow heard 'round the world by the Timbers’ head honcho. Owner Merritt Paulson followed Fernández – at least briefly.
That came on the heels of a South American scouting trip by head coach Caleb Porter and general manager Gavin Wilkinson, from which they returned claiming they had a striker on their radar and an announcement in the works.
So a Timbers blog or two picked up on the follow, meaning it was a Google search away from making the connection to Portland’s current star Argentinean, Valeri. The two grew up in the same town, Lanús, and received call-ups to the national team in the same year.
And Paulson apparently couldn’t resist the chance to fan the flames with another tweet.
Thanks to Diego Valeri for the assist in getting latest Timbers offensive weapon signed. Need to wait a bit 4official announcement. #xmas9.5— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) December 24, 2013
It would stand to reason that Valeri has more than one soccer player friend in Argentina, but the rumor mill is all in on Fernández as the guy.