BEAVERTON, Ore. – When the Portland Timbers were running on all cylinders last season, head coach Caleb Porter had three strikers – each with something different brought to the table – at his disposal.
The now departed Ryan Johnson was a physical goal-scorer, Maximiliano Urruti brought pace and the ability to press on defense and Frederic Piquionne was a traditional target forward who was good in the air.
Prior to Tuesday’s announcement that the Timbers had signed Nigerian forward Fanendo Adi on a short-term loan, they only had Urruti and newcomer Gaston Fernandez to choose from – with Piquionne having been away attending to a family emergency for the past several weeks.
Adi, a 6-foot-4 23-year-old who previously played with Danish first-division side FC Copenhagen, gives Porter three options once again.
“As I’ve said all along, I like to have different options, different dimensions depending on what we’re looking to get out of the game,” Porter said following Tuesday’s training session at the team facility. “With Adi, you get a guy that’s good in the air, a guy that can hold the ball up, so we’re obviously excited to have a third striker and a third option.”
Porter didn’t say how big of a role Adi would play, saying that will be determined in training, “just like with every single player we have on the team." Piquionne was mostly used as a substitute, having started in seven of his 24 appearances, and only went the full 90 minutes one time.
“More than anything we needed someone to replace Freddy, plain and simple,” Porter said.
Fernandez leads the team with four goals, while Urruti has two. Coming off Sunday’s 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy, the Timbers have scored just 13 goals in 10 games while allowing 16, and Porter claimed, “neither is good enough.”
But, he said, Adi’s addition wasn’t intended to send a message to the group.
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“I think the competition is there,” Porter said. “Again, you can’t question these guys’ character, you can’t question the chemistry, you can’t question the urgency. You saw the urgency in the last game.”
As for Piquionne’s departure, Porter said the family emergency that forced his return home to Martinique was “unrelated completely” to his release. He compiled one goal and five assists last year, including six goals and six assists over a 12-match span across all competitions from May 29 to Aug. 3.
“He had an issue he needed to sort out with his mother, so we allowed him to go home,” Porter said. “But we were in communication with him the entire time trying to figure out the situation and where he was at and where we were at. In the end, mutually we decided it was best for the club and he decided it was best for him at this point in his career and his life that we go in another direction.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.