When Major League Soccer's transfer window opened Monday morning, the Timbers showed they were eager to jump.
Results of the flurry of telegraphed, then-trickled-out activity for Soccer City, USA? Three new players, five (maybe six?) farewells and various sums of allocation money exchanging hands. For those keeping score at home (just me?)—five press releases between noon and 3:35 p.m. Here's how it all went down:
—At high noon, the Timbers announced they'd swapped defender Kosuke Kimura and a second-round 2013 draft pick for homegrown rights to New York defender Bryan Gallego. Portland drops an earnest, but wildly inconsistent defender for a youngster who's already familiar with incoming coach Caleb Porter. And it's on...
—At 12:51, the Timbers said they'd acquired six-year vet Michael Harrington, who PTFC GM Gavin Wilkinson called "versatile" and "expected to fight for a starting position.” No pressure, though.
—At 1:20, the Timbers sent center-back Eric Brunner to back-to-back-MLS-Cup-runner-up Houston for an untold sum of allocation money. The owner of the Rose City's best celebration face—dogged by injuries/a concussion this season—said to fans, "it has been a pleasure playing for you." Timbers Army responded by simultaneously making this face.
—At 1:30, the Timbers announced they'd declined contract options on two players whose 2012s were highlighted more by their international play than games in green—Jamaican Lovel Palmer and El Salvadoran Steve Purdy. Say what you want about their quality (or the former's Bridgetown-burning via Twitter), but Palmer was never (ever) afraid to shoot and Purdy, I still contend, would be handy with a scythe in the event of the zombie apocalypse.
—At 1:51, Portland defender Steven Smith tweeted the Scottish equivalent of "bon voyage," thanking Timbers fans he called "by far the best in MLS." OK, Steven, you too.
—At 2:57, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson lamented the Michael Corleone-like elimination of the Timbers' fullback corp, twalling it "one of the worst parts" of his job.
—At 3:35, the deal of the day: The Timbers announced they'd acquired Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson—a 25-year-old Canadian international who reached career highs in goals and assists last season. Wilkinson said Johnson "brings a winning mentality that we feel will be very important to our culture," but perhaps more important to Timbers fans was an exuberant endorsement from beloved former captain Ian Joy, which is akin to Teddy Kennedy endorsing then-Sen. Obama back in '08 (when Johnson was winning MLS Goal of the Year honors).
So what did we learn today? For one, it's clear Porter wants a new defense, and like much of Portland, he's recognized the need starts at fullback. Smith came on strong at the end of the season, and Costa Rican national/probably-better-suited-for-midfield Rodney Wallace is reportedly on a deadline to reach a deal. But there's little doubt a defensive unit many fans were forced to watch through their fingers at times last season will be a group to keep an eye in early 2013.