TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Report
The Portland Timbers are the latest MLS club to dive into Venezuela’s burgeoning pool of soccer talent, according to a new report.
The Rose City side are in the process of completing a transfer deal for Vinotinto Under-20 national team fullback Pablo Bonilla from Deportivo La Guaira, according to Venezuelan soccer observer Mario Alberto Sanchez.
Bonilla, who turns 20 in December, started every game for Venezuela at this year’s South American U-20 championship, where the nation topped their group in the tournament’s opening phase but slipped off the pace in the second round and missed out on qualification for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
He’s been a regular for La Guaira, one of the Venezuelan top flight’s top contenders in recent seasons and one of four clubs still in contention for the league’s 2019 clausura title as its playoffs move into the semifinals stage. On Sunday La Naranja won the first leg of their two-legged semifinal series vs. Deportivo Tachira 1-0. The tournament’s final unfolds next month.
In his report, Sanchez alleged that Bonilla will not appear again for La Guaira again this season as the move to Portland is completed; he was not on Sunday’s gameday roster.
Long South America’s doormat, Venezuela are undergoing a soccer renaissance of late and several MLS teams have taken advantage, most prominently in the form of Atlanta United star Josef Martinez. Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese was a Vinotinto regular during his own playing career and Portland signed Venezuelan midfielder Renzo Zambrano a year ago; Zambrano made 10 league appearances (nine starts) last season.