Going into Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft, the Portland Timbers’ front office had identified four players worth the value of their trade for a late second-round pick.
So when University of Washington and Timbers U-23 product Dylan Tucker-Gangnes fell to Portland at 34th overall, head coach Caleb Porter couldn’t have been more pleased.
Identified by some analysts as the most MLS-ready center back, Porter expects Tucker-Gangnes to immediately step in to fill a role of creating depth along the backline, which saw a number of injuries during the 2012 season.
“We were actually skeptical that he would be in there that late, and we were obviously pleased that he was,” Porter told MLSsoccer.com after the draft.
After parting with their only two picks in December trades, the Timbers jumped back into the draft early Thursday morning when they shipped seldom-used forward Mike Fucito to San Jose for the second-round pick. With Tucker-Gangnes, the Timbers are adding a mature player who was a two-year captain and two-time all-Pac-12 selection with the Huskies.
Porter and the Timbers were not only familiar with Tucker-Gangnes through his two years with the club’s Academy but also through Porter’s connection with his college coach, Jamie Clark. Porter and Clark played together for the San Jose Clash, now the Earthquakes.
“He was a guy who [Clark] mentioned that he would be a guy we should consider,” Porter said. “Jamie is a good coach and he was a center back himself, so I knew he would come from a good pedigree. He fits what we were looking for out of a depth piece on the back line. He has good feet. He can play out of the back, which for me was really unique; not a lot of center backs have those qualities. He’s versatile.”
The addition of Tucker-Gangnes still leaves the right back position as the only glaring hole for the Timbers to address. Owner Merritt Paulson teased several moves at the beginning of the week in his Twitter account, and Porter said the team isn’t yet done making tweaks to the roster.
Porter, however, declined to comment on reports the Timbers have bought out the contract of Designed Player Kris Boyd after just one season in the Rose City. Porter earlier indicated that Boyd would have a hard time fitting into his system and said he expects there to a resolution in the coming days.
“We’re always going to be open to making moves, offseason, in-season, if it makes sense for us to help our team get better, have a better chance to make the playoffs, we’re going to do it,” Porter said. “So we’re open to that. We’re well aware of a few places that we still want to potentially bolster. I would expect there still to be some moves.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.