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Ridgewell out Sunday, no matter what

MLS says Portland defender must sit out, even if healthy

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published: July 28, 2016, 5:54pm

BEAVERTON, Ore. — Even if Liam Ridgewell is healthy enough to play on Sunday, the Portland Timbers central defender will not be allowed to play in the match at Sporting Kansas City.

Major League Soccer instituted a rule this season that requires players who are selected for the All-Star Game to be available for that game or miss their club’s next league match.

The Timbers argued that because Ridgewell missed last weekend’s match against the L.A. Galaxy with a calf injury, he should be allowed to play this week. But appeals from coach Caleb Porter, general manager Gavin Wilkinson and owner Merritt Paulson did not convince MLS to allow Ridgewell to play.

“It’s really disappointing. It doesn’t make a lot of sense at all. He’s legitimately injured,” Porter said.

Ridgewell has not trained this week. He felt calf tightness following the Timbers’ July 17 win over Seattle. He is making progress, according to Porter. The coach noted that Ridgewell’s return-to-play window makes it possible, but not certain, that he would be healthy for the Sunday match.

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and Colorado midfielder Jermaine Jones also cannot play this weekend after missing the All-Star Game. Like Ridgewell, Besler and Jones each missed his club’s most recent league match.

In nine games without Ridgewell, the Timbers are 1-4-4 with one shutout and 16 goals against. In the 13 matches with Ridgewell, the Timbers are 6-3-4 with two shutouts and 17 goals against.

Porter on Thursday said the Timbers are likely to add two more defenders by next week to help make up for Nat Borchers’ season-ending injury and to build longer-term depth along the back line. Several reports — including one from ESPN — indicate that longtime Newcastle United center back Steven Taylor, 30, will be joining the Timbers.

On Thursday the Timbers signed veteran goalkeeper Chris Konopka to back up Jake Gleeson. Konopka, 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, has spent six seasons with MLS clubs and last season played a career-high 21 matches for Toronto FC. He most recently played for 2015-16 Scottish League Cup winners Ross County FC.

Valeri an all-star reserve — Diego Valeri on Thursday was one of four players added to the MLS All-Star roster as reserves. Though he did not attend the match, he officially is one of 32 players named all-stars. This is his second all-star selection. He played in the 2014 game at Providence Park. Also named all-star reserves on Thursday were goalkeepers Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake and David Ousted of Vancouver along with Philadelphia forward C.J. Sapong.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter