The Portland Timbers have sent $50,000 in General Allocation Money and a first round pick in next year’s SuperDraft to Sporting Kansas City to acquire Lawrence Olum. The central defender and defensive midfielder adds “…a player with significant MLS experience and the ability to play several positions, with no transitional risk,” according to general manager Gavin Wilkinson.
Timbers Acquire Lawrence Olum From Sporting Kansas City
Olum is 32 years and is actually a returning Timber. He played for the USL version of the team in 2007 and 2008, when he made 86 appearances and scored five goals. He has spent six of the last seven seasons with Sporting Kansas City. Last year, he made 17 starts for SKC. Ten of which were in defensive midfield and the others were in central defense. He also has four caps with the Kenyan Men’s National Team.
He was adequate last season, but his best years are certainly behind him. He peaked in 2014, when he started 21 games and scored twice. However, he spent 2015 playing in Malaysia before returning to the States in a part time role last year.
Much like his final season in Kansas City, he will not start for Portland, but he serves as a backup plan in case something should happen to Diego Chara. He can also come in as a late game sub to add a second defensive option in the midfield or provide a needed rest for someone in central defense. If the Timbers see as many issues with injuries in the back line as they did last year, he could actually see some valuable minutes.
He is a stable defender who is good for picking off more than a couple passes per game. He set a career high in interceptions per game last year with 2.5. He also is adept at playing an offside trap, winning aerials, and keeping players in front of him.
Also, at 32 years of age, he brings some experience to the Timbers defense. I’m not saying he can impart the life lessons of the now retired Nat Borchers, but having a guy with six years of MLS experience and a few more at lower levels can’t hurt. Overall, as Wilkinson said, this is a low risk signing that can provide a little bit of fallback in case things go wrong in the starting XI.