PORTLAND — A year ago, the creative play of Franck Songo’o was a source of preseason excitement for the Portland Timbers and their fans.
On Wednesday, coach Caleb Porter acknowledged that Songo’o won’t be playing for the Timbers in 2013.
Also Wednesday, a key player acquired to bring creativity to the Timbers attack – Argentina’s Diego Valeri — was introduced to local media and talked about how excited he is to be a Portland Timber.
As for Songo’o, the Cameroonian midfielder and product of the Barcelona youth system announced Tuesday on Twitter that the Timbers were not going to re-sign him.
Songo’o had one goal and five assists in 27 MLS matches with the Timbers last season and made 10 consecutive starts late in the season.
“Frank Songo’o will no longer be with the team,” Porter said. “I’m not going to comment further on that, but we wish Franck all the best and appreciate his contributions to the club.”
The influx of MLS veterans Will Johnson and Ryan Johnson, along with the addition of Valeri, certainly will impact the Timbers salary cap versatility. That likely figured into the Timbers’ decision top part ways with Songo’o.
Speaking with the help an interpreter, Valeri — the Timbers’ newest designated player — said the transition from Argentina to Portland has been smooth.
“I think this is a great club. I’m just very surprised at how well organized the infrastructure of the MLS (is) and this team in particular,” Valeri said.
Valeri said his skills fit well with the possession-oriented philosophy Porter is installing. The coach agreed.
“He’s got a lot of gifts and tools. He’s creative. He’s technical,” Porter said.
The coach is looking forward to seeing Valeri in a match, but Porter said the midfielder’s quality has been evident during the first days of training camp.
“Today, even in the pattern play you could see a little of the composure, the final passes the finishes, even the movement (and) the timing,” Porter said Wednesday. “Those little things you can’t teach. He’s going to bring a different sophistication to this group.”
Valeri, 26, is entering his seventh professional season. He has played in three friendly matches for the Argentina national team. He said he has followed Major League Soccer for several years.
Asked how he might gel with Colombian midfielder Diego Chara, the Timbers other designated player, Valeri said his job is to develop chemistry with all of his teammates.
“The general idea is going to be no matter who is on the field to try to maintain control of the ball,” Valeri said. “So whether it is Diego (Chara), (Darlington) Nagbe or anybody else on the team, what we are working on is basic possession of the ball so that we can hurt other teams.”
Porter noted that Valeri has been working for months on his English, and that he communicates well in training sessions and in the locker room.