By DAN KARELL
Following up the success in Diego Valeri’s first year in MLS, the Portland Timbers are hoping to strike gold once more with two more signings from Argentina.
The Timbers announced the long-awaited news on Wednesday that forward Gaston “La Gata” Fernandez and defender Norberto Paparatto have signed with the Timbers, pending the receipt of their international transfer certificates (ITC) and P-1 Visa’s. In addition, the Timbers sent young forward Jose Valencia on a season-long loan to Club Olimpo in the Argentine Primera Division.
Per the Timbers’ press releases, neither Fernandez or Paparatto are signed to Designated Player contracts.
Fernandez, 30, has spent most of his career in Argentina but spent two stints in Liga MX with Monterrey (2006) and Tigres UANL (2008, 2010). After coming through the youth ranks at Argentine giants River Plate, Fernandez played for Racing Club, San Lorenzo, and La Gata has spent the last five seasons with Estudiantes de la Plata.
“We are extremely pleased to add a player the caliber of Gastón Fernández to our club,” Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers said in a statement. “It was our priority to find a striker that was the right fit for our group on many different levels. We had a specific type of player in mind, someone that could create goals but also have chemistry with our other quality attacking pieces. We feel Gastón will not only bring that final third production but he will be a compliment to the team and our collective play.”
The 30-year-old Paparatto comes to the Timbers from Buenos Aires side Tigre, where he had been since 2007. Paparatto is coming off a season where he played all 17 matches for Tigre and was elected the team’s captain in their fall season.
With the Timbers parting ways with defender David Horst and veteran defender Mikael Silvestre coming off a serious season-ending knee injury, Porter knew he needed to acquire a solid defender with a wide range of passing this offseason.
“One of our objectives in the offseason was to add another central defender with a specific profile, and we feel Paparatto is the ideal fit,” said Caleb Porter, Timbers head coach. “He is technically and tactically sound and will bring another player in our locker room that has experience and leadership qualities playing at a high level for many years. Norberto will also help with our aerial ability, which is a critical component we wanted to enhance in our team. We look forward to integrating him into an already deep backline.”
What do you think of this news? Do you expect Fernandez and Paparatto to start next season? Do you expect them to have the same impact that Valeri had? Disappointed with Valencia leaving on loan?
Share your thoughts below.