Nat Borchers chopped down, and Timbers begin to forge uncertain path

BEAVERTON, Ore.—The Portland Timbers lost a defensive mainstay and a locker room leader when Nat Borchers suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in Saturday’s loss to the LA Galaxy.

The club hopes to announce the addition of another central defender soon, coach Caleb Porter said.

“We’re evaluating all our options, but we do have room (on the roster) so we’ll be looking to make a couple of signings,” said Porter, after the team’s Tuesday training session. He confirmed the Timbers were looking to sign another central defender before Borchers went down.

Borchers’ season-ending injury opens up a roster spot, but the Timbers will not get any added salary cap relief to help fill that spot.

Borchers faces a long recovery. Porter noted that the length of recovery – 200 days or longer – makes the injury especially challenging for a 35-year-old player.

“When the dust settles, he’ll have surgery and he’ll throw everything into the rehab,” Porter said.

Borchers’ value to the Timbers, of course, goes well beyond the field. His veteran voice has been important since arriving in Portland at the beginning of 2015.

“I always find that when you lose leaders, it’s interesting how other leaders step up and emerge,” Porter said, mentioning Jermaine Taylor as a veteran who might assume more of a leadership role.

Striker Fanendo Adi called Borchers’ injury a massive loss and said the team will miss Borchers’ veteran advice.

“He pushes me a lot. He keeps talking to me and tells me ‘You’ve got to take care of your body,’” Adi said.

Said midfielder Ben Zemanski: “He’s such a locker room presence I think he’ll still be around. When he’s back and recovered from his surgery, I’m sure he’ll be in the locker room and he’s still going to be just as much a part of this team as when he was playing.”

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