Portland Timbers midfielder David Ayala out for 2023 with torn ACL

David Ayala POR

The Portland Timbers have lost a second central midfielder to a season-ending ACL injury, announcing Tuesday that David Ayala will miss the rest of the 2023 campaign.

Ayala, 20, got injured during the first half of Portland’s 2-1 win Saturday at St. Louis CITY SC. He’s expected to be sidelined for nine months after undergoing surgery early next week, putting him on track to return for the 2024 season.

Ayala joins central midfielder Eryk Williamson on Portland’s long-term injury list after the US men’s national team player suffered his second ACL tear in as many years in early April.

Ayala, who joined the Timbers in February 2022 as a U22 Initiative signing from Argentine top-flight side Estudiantes, has played 25 games (11 starts) across the last two seasons. This year, he was limited to four games across 162 minutes with two different injuries.

Without Ayala and Williamson, Cristhian Paredes, Diego Chara and Noel Caliskan are deeper-lying midfielders on the Timbers’ roster. The club’s been ravaged by injuries in 2023, testing the lineups head coach Giovanni Savarese can call upon.

Should Portland want to pursue additions, the league’s Secondary Transfer Window runs from July 5 to Aug. 2. In the meantime, with the Primary Transfer Window closing last week, teams can still sign out-of-contract players.

After a slow start to 2023, Portland sit in eighth place (3W-5L-2D) in the Western Conference table entering Matchday 11. That has them on track for an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs return after missing out in 2022.