Transfer Tracker

Report: Portland Timbers seeking young Designated Player signing at striker

Ezequiel Ponce - AEK Athens - in Champions League action against Bayern Munich


After falling just shy of winning their second MLS Cup despite riding a carousel at forward in 2018, the Portland Timbers are pursuing a young Designated Player signing at striker and have winnowed their options to two, according to Paul Tenorio of The Athletic.

The Timbers could sign Ezequiel Ponce, a 21-year-old Argentine who currently sits tied for second in the Greek league season with nine goals scored at AEK Athens. The other option is currently playing in Liga MX, Tenorio indicates.

Portland was able to overcome stability in the No. 9 role last season because of the stellar production of midfielders Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco, who each scored 10 goals and combined for 23 assists. Samuel Armenteros was the most productive striker for first-year manager Giovanni Savarese with eight goals in 28 appearances, but his loan expired at the end of the season.

Armenteros' arrival saw Fanendo Adi's request for a move granted, as he became FC Cincinnati's first MLS signing. And Jeremy Ebobisse saw most of the postseason action up top as Armenteros recovered from an injury, scoring twice in the regular season and once more in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Ponce came up through the Newell's Old Boys academy in Argentina, but has been in Europe for three years, and is currently amid his best domestic season by some margin. He has also spent time on loan from Roma at Granada in Spain and Lille in France.