The Portland Timbers have bolstered their backline ahead of the 2020 season, as defender Dario Zuparic has been signed from Croatian side HNK Rijeka to a multi-year contract by using Targeted Allocation Money. ESPN's Jeff Carlisle first reported the news on Tuesday.
Zuparic, 27, will officially be added to Portland’s roster, pending a physical and receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 visa. Zuparic will occupy an international slot for the Timbers.
“Dario was targeted as a player of interest over a year ago and we are delighted to get a proven defender at a very good age to join the Timbers,” said Gavin Wilkinson, GM and president of soccer for the Timbers in a statement. “Dario brings a wealth of experience and we believe his playing style, experience and leadership qualities will be very beneficial to the team and we expect him to make a significant impact once he is fully transitioned.”
Zuparic has been with HNK Rijeka since 2017, and helped them win the 2016-17 Croatian First League title and raise the Croatian Football Cup in 2016-17 and 2018-19. He’s also made 97 appearances for Italian club Pescara, and helped the team secure promotion to Serie A during the 2015-16 campaign. His professional career began with Croatian side HNK Cibalia in 2011.
“We are pleased to add Dario as a proven defender to our roster,” said head coach Giovanni Savarese. “Dario’s vast experience playing in Europe will be an important asset to strengthen our backline and his winning mentality perfectly aligns with the team’s culture.”
On the international stage, Zuparic made three appearances for the U-19 Bosnia and Herzegovina national team and seven appearances with the Croatian U-21 national team.