2. Jaroslaw Niezgoda
Ah yes, the coveted Designated Player signing from overseas, Polish striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda. Niezgoda had been connected to the open DP slot throughout the offseason. Those rumors spread quickly but the deal itself took over a month and a half to finalize. There was a constant fear that is would fall through with other European clubs expressing interest — After all, the 24-year-old led the Polish top-flight in goals at the time of his acquisition with 14 scored in 18 matches played.
The need for a prominent goalscorer has been great for the Timbers. Samuel Armenteros was loaned out to Portland from Italian Serie B side club Benevento Calcio, and after scoring eight goals in 1,590 minutes played in the 2018 season, his loan expired and he returned to Italy. The next season, Brian Fernandez arrived from Liga MX side Necaxa. What looked like a quality signing for most of the season, with Fernandez leading the team in goals scored with 11, was followed by a suspension and then dismissal from the league due to his substance abuse.
Niezgoda, then, must be a home run for the Timbers front office. Everyone around the club is high on Niezgoda’s versatility, physical tools and unique style of play. ‘Jarek is an important addition to the club and we believe he has all the attributes to be successful in MLS,’ Portland general manager Gavin Wilkinson said earlier this offseason. ‘He has natural goal-scoring predatory instincts and the ability to score in many different ways.’ God knows, the Portland Timbers need it.