Timbers sign striker after successful audition

[MLS] The newest Timber to sign an MLS contract isn't new at all; Colombian forward Jorge Perlaza has been with the team for most of the preseason.

His acquisition became official Monday, three days after scoring Portland’s first goal in a 2-0 triumph over Northwest rival Seattle in the Cascadia Summit at the Sounders’ training facility in Tukwila, Wash. He comes to MLS after playing four seasons -- scoring 28 goals in 135 appearances -- for Deportes Tolima in the Colombian league.

“With his athleticism and how tough he plays, we think he is a great fit for the Timbers,” said technical director Gavin Wilkinson in a press release announcing the transaction. “He was a tremendous goalscorer last year for Tolima, and he already has shown he has the ability to be the same with Portland this season.”

Perlaza, 26, scored 15 goals in 31 league matches last season for Tolima, which he has also represented in the Copa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound attacker has good speed that he has utilized for the Timbers in preseason while operating often as a second forward. He scored against Seattle by stroking home the rebound of a saved shot and on several occasions glided into the goalmouth in search of shots or a threatening pass.

“We have no doubt if we can get him settled into the culture and a different structure he can score goals in this league,” said Coach John Spencer. He and Wilkinson scouted numerous games in which Perlaza played while evaluating him, and brought him to the United States at the start of preseason as a non-roster player.

Perlaza began his career with Atlético Huila in 2001 and has played for Deportes Quindío (2002, 2004-06), Deportivo Pasto (2002-03), and Tolima (2007-10). He will count as an international player on the Timbers roster, and his salary hasn't been disclosed. He is not classified as a Designated Player.

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