IM1.jpg
Austin Webb/Portland Timbers
The Portland Timbers have a new right back.

The club announced Tuesday morning that it has acquired 29-year-old Jorge Moreira, native of Paraguay, on loan from River Plate for the 2019 season. The deal includes an option to purchase Moreira outright at the conclusion of the year.

Moreira, who joined the Timbers' preseason camp in Tucson several days ago, brings an impressive resume to MLS — where he'll fill a positional need for the Timbers, giving the club a second international-quality fullback as they close in on the start of the new MLS season in less than two weeks' time.

Tuesday's announcement was a long time in the making. The Timbers began the offseason by trading Alvas Powell to expansion club FC Cincinnati, leaving them with Zarek Valentin as the only right back on the senior roster.

Valentin enjoyed a career year last year, but his struggles in the postseason and limited ability to contribute going forward made the club eager to invest in a proven, quality player to compete with him.

Moreira, with his 17 caps for Paraguay and positive recent history at one of the Americas' biggest clubs, represents that investment. The Timbers have signed him using Targeted Allocation Money, and the expectation is that he will, sooner or later, he'll supplant Valentin's in the starting lineup.

Moreira began his career with his youth club 2 de Mayo in Paraguay, before moving as a 19-year-old to capital club Libertad, where he stayed for seven years — making 176 appearances and winning the Paraguayan league on five separate occasions.

He moved to Argentine giant River Plate in the summer of 2016, and quickly established himself as the club's starting right back in that subsequent season.

His run of good fortune came to an end, however, in a Copa Libertadores semifinal the following October, when he suffered a knee injury that would ultimately keep him off the field for ten months. He made his return in August, but, having fallen down the depth chart, has made just nine competitive appearances since.

Now, he's a Timber. He's a muscular fullback, and should be able to handle MLS's physicality. He also began his career as a midfielder, and likes to get forward — something that the Timbers will almost certainly need from their fullbacks to a greater extent than they did last year.

The major concern is Moreira's health. He hasn't played everyday in a year-and-a-half, and the Timbers' season-opening road trip is going to be punishing, physically and mentally, for even those players who have years of experience traveling and playing in the U.S. Valentin, as always, will be crucially important cover.

Moreira's is, nonetheless, an encouraging singing — low-risk, given the structure of the deal, a logical cultural fit, given South American leadership on the coaching and playing staffs, and, more broadly, the kind of TAM player that MLS's better teams are beginning to bring in with regularity.

The Timbers' work in constructing this roster is not done. The team needs another forward, seven-figure DP or not, and there are legitimate concerns about the state of the central defense and wide midfield.

But with the curtain-raiser in Colorado just ten short days away, this is certainly a step in the right direction.