What newest Timbers right back Juan David Mosquera brings to the table

by Charlie Folkestad
Juan David Mosquera arrives in Portland

The Portland Timbers have their new right back, and his name is Juan David Mosquera.

After a disappointing season from regular starter Josecarlos Van Rankin (and his backup, Pablo Bonilla, not yet playing at a high enough level), the Timbers went out and used their third Under-22 Initiative slot on a promising 19-year-old Colombian.

Who is this guy?

Mosquera is a 19-year-old from Colombia, where he will join four other Timbers (the Chara brothers, Santiago Moreno, and Dairon Asprilla) from his home country.

Mosquera, 19, joins the Timbers after spending three seasons at Independiente Medellín in Colombia. The Cali, Colombia native registered three goals and three assists in 59 appearances across all competitions. He made his professional debut at 17 years old on Feb. 7, 2020, against Patriotas Boyaca, logging a 90-minute performance.

Read the club’s full description, full of general info, here.

What’s his game like?

At 5’11”-160 lbs, Mosquera is virtually the same size and weight as Dairon Asprilla (5’10”-165), and that physicality is the first thing that pops on tape. He’s often the biggest, strongest, and fastest guy on the pitch in his clips. As Timbers fans already know, that can get you pretty far in MLS.

  • Note: The Timbers listed him at 5’9″ in one of their intro articles, but every other listing I’ve seen says 5’11”. Maybe it’s a typo on their end.

But there are two things that separate good athletes from good players: one’s decision-making and technical abilities.

Mosquera has some eye-catching dribbling highlights, but they often involve large swaths of open space in the opposing defense. That being said, he is really good at finding that space, and his decision-making seems really good for a 19-year-old.

There’s room to improve technically, but he does have some good finishes in his clips (there’s your deviation from Dairon, who was statistically the worst finisher in MLS for his first few years in the league).

MLS is a more technically skilled offensive league than the Colombian league. MLS incentivizes spending big on a handful of your players, and that money almost always goes to attacking players.

In short, I’m curious to see how he adapts to better competition. Playing against the oldest team in MLS during training sessions should help with that.

  • See the “how he stacks up” section below for more scouting report-type info.

Are we getting a good deal?

Mosquera’s contract runs through 2026, with a club option for 2027. This is in line with Portland’s other U-22 signings: David Ayala’s signed through 2025 with a club option for 2026, while Santiago Moreno is under contract through 2025.

The Timbers paid Independiente Medellin a reported $1.9 million transfer fee, while also staving off 2022 UEFA Champions League semifinalists Villarreal in the process.

We won’t know whether or not Mosquera is a “good deal” until he actually plays, of course — but on paper, this looks like a solid deal for Portland. 

How does Portland have a third U22 slot when we have three Designated Players?

Many of you are aware that MLS allows teams three U22 spots and three DP spots. However, as is the case with everything in MLS, there are a couple loopholes.

If a Club has a vacant third Designated Player slot, the Club will have available three U22 Initiative Slots.

If a Club elects to sign a third Designated Player, the number of U22 Initiative Slots would be impacted in the following way:

  • If the third Designated Player is a Young Designated Player, the club will have all three U22 Initiative Slots.
  • If the third Designated Player is age 24 or older, yet is at, or below, Maximum Targeted Allocation Money Amount ($1,612,500), the club will have all three U22 Initiative Slots.
  • If the third Designated Player is age 24 or older and is above Maximum Targeted Allocation Money Amount ($1,612,500), the club will have one U22 Initiative Slot.

via MLS Roster Rules

The Timbers fall under that second bullet point. I don’t really feel like explaining how. Just trust me on this one.

How does he stack up to the other guys on the roster?

Mosquera is bigger than both Van Rankin and Bonilla, and I expect him to be better.

 

It’s no secret Van Rankin has struggled immensely in 2022 after being solid in 2021. The Timbers reluctantly agreed to extending his loan through the end of this season at the July deadline — a move I would not have expected had they made this signing sooner.

I think the front office was also betting on Bonilla to be first-team ready at some point, but it’s clear his development isn’t on the trajectory they hoped. At 22 years old, there’s still plenty of room to grow, but I’d be shocked if Mosquera was anything but Plan A at right back heading into next season.

Wasn’t there another Mosquera on the Timbers at some point?

So glad you asked. Yes. Hanyer Mosquera was a center back for the Timbers in 2012. He returned to Colombia after one season due to “personal reasons” and ended up being a not-so-great guy.

Here’s to hoping this Mosquera turns out better!

When will he actually play?

Mosquera needs to secure his visa first. Gio answered this question the other day, basically saying “these things take time.” So no one knows. Not even the club. But I’m sure he will be with the first team as soon as he gets that visa.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m really excited about this transfer. Anytime a club like Villareal is willing to take a shot at a guy you’re getting (even if he’s not good enough for their first team) it’s a good sign.

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