Portland Timbers add Designated Player, Premier League defender Liam Ridgewell

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The Portland Timbers have dipped into the free-agency market and plucked out an experienced Premier League defender in Liam Ridgewell.

On Wednesday the Major League Soccer side signed Ridgewell, who played 33 times for West Bromwich Albion in the PL during the 2013-14 season, to a deal at Providence Park.

Ridgewell, 29, has twelve-years of experience playing in England’s top-flight with Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Brom.

He joins Portland after recently attending a match in the Rose City and being impressed with everything that he saw.

Speaking to the Timbers official website, general manager Gavin Wilkinson had the following to say about adding Ridgewell as Portland’s third DP.

“Liam is a proven defender at the highest level and brings strong leadership qualities along with a wealth of experience,” Wilkinson, said. “After attending a recent match at Providence Park, Liam was incredibly taken by the fans and atmosphere generated here in Portland and, despite receiving several attractive offers to stay in the Premiership, chose the Timbers due to his belief in the vision and football philosophy of the organization.”

Head coach of the Timbers, Caleb Porter, added that Ridgewell’s acquisition was something the Timbers had been working towards for a while and that “it was no secret we were looking to strengthen our squad with a top-level defender.” It seems like the Timbers are gearing up for a big second half of the season after they made the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup by beating Sporting KC on Tuesday and they aim to keep improving their league form. After their slow start to the MLS regular season, Portland sit in sixth in the West after winning just four of their first 16 games. They’ve only lost four times, but turning draws into wins has been their big issue. Better defending, with Ridgewell on hand to help out, can only improve their stats in the win column.

Ridgewell is a typical no-nonsense central defender who can also operate at left back and the former England U-21 international is only 29. He will strengthen Portland’s defense with his vast knowledge and experience of playing in one of the globe’s toughest league’s for over a decade. Ridgewell status as a hard-nosed defender, who can also pop up with vital goals, should seem him compliment the likes of Pa Modou Kah in Portland’s defense perfectly.

Whatever happens, a third DP has landed in Portland.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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