Portland Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson smiling
Portland Timbers

Portland Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson: Jaroslaw Niezgoda nearly signed, but 2020 roster build continues

PORTLAND, Ore. — After reaching MLS Cup in 2018, the Portland Timbers are not satisfied with last season’s first-round playoff exit last.

And the roster build ahead of the 2020 season isn’t complete, with Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson noting the need to add one to two attacking players, as well as a right back.

That could include 24-year-old striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda, Wilkinson confirmed at the club's media day Wednesday. Earlier this month, Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy reported he had agreed to contract terms with the Timbers and asking for a transfer from Legia Warsaw.

“We’re still completing part of the medical so it’s a negotiation that is ongoing,” Wilkinson said. “We are hopeful that he will join the Timbers, but we will not have a resolution before next week.”

If all goes to plan, Niezgoda could operate as their third Designated Player and give some depth to the forward position, as the only one currently on the roster is Jeremy Ebobisse.

The Timbers also signed University of Washington's Blake Bodily as a Homegrown Player, it was announced Friday, but Wilkinson noted most of his time this season will likely be spent developing with T2.

“He’s a player that’s had a tremendous career in college and is given the opportunity to be with the organization, so we’re excited about him and excited about what he brings to the club,” Wilkinson said.

Strengthening the attack has been a key goal this offseason. The Timbers struggled mightily to score toward the end of the season, with injuries to players like Sebastian Blanco and the absence of Brian Fernandez, who entered the MLS substance abuse program on Oct. 7 and whose contract has since been terminated.

After months of speculation, the Timbers signed captain Diego Valeri to a multiyear extension in December. They also picked up Yimmi Chara, midfielder Diego Chara’s brother, off the transfer market on Jan 2. The Colombian has been praised by head coach Giovanni Savarese for his ability both offensively and defensively.

Savarese noted the roster needs a few more tweaks before it can be competitive at the level they expect.

“We still are not there yet,” Savarese said. “We have made some moves. Gavin has worked very hard this offseason to make sure that we find the right pieces and we’re still looking to add those pieces so I think once we get everyone in and what we’re looking for I think we’ll feel pretty good about ourselves. ... I think there’s been a lot of work already and we’ll continue to work, but if we get all that together I think we’re going to be a very competitive team.”


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