Timbers sign Adi to multiyear contract

Striker from Nigeria was on loan to Portland

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



Fanendo Adi made a quick impression with the Portland Timbers. Now the Nigerian forward has a chance to make a long-term impact.

The Timbers on Monday announced they have bought Adi from FC Copenhagen and signed him to a multiyear Designated Player contract. As is the case with all MLS deals, terms of the transaction were not announced.

Adi, 23, has scored four goals and assisted on two others in his first six appearances with the Timbers. He joined Portland on May 13 when the Timbers agreed to a short-term loan deal with FC Copenhagen of the Danish first division.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound striker scored two goals in his first Timbers start, a May 28 win at Chivas USA. He also scored twice on June 7 as Portland won 3-1 at Real Salt Lake — an effort that earned him MLS Player of the Week honors.

“He has proven to be an ideal fit in our system and possesses qualities that will make him a very effective striker in this league,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said in the club’s announcement. “We look forward to his contributions for years to come.”

Adi joins midfielder Diego Valeri as a Designated Player on the Timbers roster. MLS teams are allowed up to three Designated Players who can be paid more than the amount they count toward the MLS salary cap of $3.1 million. He occupies an international slot on the Timbers roster.

Adi’s size gives the Timbers a target forward, something they were missing with the offseason departure of Ryan Johnson and the May departure of Frederic Piquionne. Early in his Timbers career, Adi has demonstrated the pace and skill to go at defenders with the ball, in addition to winning battles in the air and holding possession while teammates join the attack.

Monday’s announcement was anticipated after Timbers owner Merritt Paulson on Friday Tweeted a photo of Adi signing paperwork.

Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said that acquiring Adi on loan gave the team time to see if the striker was a good fit in the locker room and on the field. It didn’t take long to answer those questions.

“With Adi performing well and fitting into the club culture and team dynamics, the decision to take up the purchase option was an easy one,” Wilkinson said. “He is young and has already shown the ability to be a dominant forward in this league.”

Adi scored three goals in nine league appearances for FC Copenhagen in the 2013-14 season. He also played for in three group-stage matches of the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League.

Adi started his professional career in 2009-10 with AS Trencin of the Sloviakian second division, scoring 27 goals in 60 league matches over two stints with that team. He also played for Metalurh Donetsk in Ukraine’s first division.