Portland addresses center forward issues with Fanendo Adi loan deal
Portland moved to address its lingering vacancy at center forward by acquiring Fanendo Adi on a short-term loan deal from FC København before the close of the MLS primary transfer window on Tuesday.
Adi, 23, joins from the Danish giants on a temporary deal with an option to purchase to bolster Caleb Porter's options in the final third. He is a prototypical center forward, a big (6'4", 185 lbs.) and physical presence designed to offer a different and more direct element to a Timbers side currently lacking a robust figure to lead the line.
“Adi gives us another striker piece to further strengthen our roster,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said in a release. “His air play and ability to hold the ball as more of a target option will complement the qualities of our other players while providing a different dimension to our attack.”
Porter desperately needed a target player to supplement his current choices. Ryan Johnson (left for Chinese side Henan Jianye during the winter after failing to agree terms on a new deal or persuade the Timbers to trade his rights to another MLS team), Frédéric Piquionne (waived on Tuesday) and José Valencia (shipped on loan to Argentine side Olimpo) all departed over the past few months to leave Porter bereft of a center forward capable of holding up the play and providing a presence inside the penalty area.
By relying on more technical players such as Gastón Fernández and Maximiliano Urruti, the Timbers filled the void through the available means while creating other problems. Fernández's tendency to float out of the center forward channel often creates spacing issues, though he has proven potent in front of goal and has tempered his roaming a bit in recent weeks. Urruti often struggles to impose his presence on matches despite his industry and his skill. The similarity between the players - at least in broad strokes - left few options to alter the calculus when the neat interplay from midfield sputtered or opposing defenses stunted the Timbers' preferred methods of combination play.
Adi certainly increases the potential outlets in that department, though he represents something of a gamble. The imposing striker mustered just nine domestic appearances for a København side performing below its usual standards in the Superliga, though he did feature three times (twice off the bench) in the Champions League. Andreas Cornelius' return from Cardiff City in January limited Adi's prospects of a regular run in the starting XI and pushed him onto the fringes of a team with several potential alternatives up front.
The strength in depth allowed København to ship Adi to Portland as a potential solution to the Timbers' center forward concerns. Adi represents a tidy, low-risk acquisition for the Timbers given the temporal nature of the move and the paucity of available players as the primary transfer window winds to a close. If he can provide a permanent answer to the vacancy up front, then it would constitute a significant triumph given the lack of movement elsewhere in the league. If he falls short, then the Timbers can at least cut ties promptly and pursue Designated Player options during the summer to rectify the concerns once and for all.