Just how many international slots do the Portland Timbers have, how will that change in 2012 and who exactly needs one? These questions are oft-repeated on Twitter and in bar conversations all the time in Portland. Here is an attempt to bring clarity to the question(s) – granting that the scenarios are likely to change within days, or certainly weeks, of this posting.

Slots Held:

8 – Each MLS club was granted eight international slots ahead of the 2011 season.

9 – On November 22, 2010, Portland sent allocation money to the LA Galaxy in exchange for an additional international slot. That slot lasts two seasons, and will expire at the end of 2012.

10 – At the SuperDraft on January 12, 2011, Portland traded the 20th overall pick and allocation money to Seattle Sounders for the 11th overall pick and an international slot to expire at the end of the 2011 season. The Timbers then traded the 11th pick (eventually Will Bruin) to Houston Dynamo for allocation money.

11 – July 21, 2011 the Timbers traded Adam Moffat and allocation money to Houston Dynamo for Mike Chabala, Lovel Palmer and an international slot to expire at the end of the 2011 season.

10 – Sometime between Ryan Pore’s ‘loan’ agreement (July 20, 2011) and the Expansion Draft, the Timbers traded an international slot to Montreal in exchange for the Impact avoiding selecting any Timbers players.

Slots Needed:

The Timbers’ season started March 19, 2011 in Colorado. At that time, the following nine players required an international slot:

Darlington Nagbe – Liberia
Eddie Johnson – England
Adam Moffat – Scotland
Khalif Alhassan – Ghana
James Marcelin – Haiti
Jorge Perlaza – Colombia
Jake Gleeson – New Zealand
Brian Umony – Uganda
Futty Danso – The Gambia

Presumably the Timbers already knew they’d signed Colombian Diego Chará, so makes ten players requiring a slot.

In July, when the Timbers acquired Jamaican Lovel Palmer, an additional international slot was acquired, though not needed, as the Timbers were replacing Adam Moffat with Palmer.

What Happens Next:

10 – As of December 15, 2011, the Timbers hold ten international slots.

8 – As of January 1, 2012, the Timbers will hold eight international slots.

At the end of the calendar year, the international slots acquired from Seattle and Houston will return, reducing the Timbers’ total to eight. The additional slot from the Galaxy and the trade to Montreal level the number back to the original, allowed total. When Brian Umony’s loan deal was not extended, the Timbers then required just nine international slots. Today’s addition of Colombian José Adolfo Valencia will, of course, require an international slot.

According to Merritt Paulson, at least two Timbers players are expected to acquire green cards before the start of the 2012 season. In order for the Timbers to balance the number of players needing an international slot and the available slots, the loss of the two one-year slots will have to coincide with the reduction in the number of required slots. In other words, it seems very likely that the green cards in question would take effect no later than January 1, 2012, lest the Timbers still have ten international players on the roster with just eight available slots.

UPDATE – According to the folks at Hot Time in Old Town, the MLS compliance date for international slots is March 1.


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