Gio Savarese hints at Eryk Williamson return vs Orlando City

Portland Timbers player Eryk Williamson could make his return on Sunday after suffering a torn ACL in 2021.
Portland Timbers player Eryk Williamson could make his return on Sunday after suffering a torn ACL in 2021. / Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Portland Timbers midfielder Eryk Williamson could soon be back for the Western Conference giants after his 2021 Major League Soccer season was cut short by a torn ACL. 

The player suffered the season-ending injury to his knee last August in the match against the Seattle Sounders. Prior to the tear, the midfielder had been on the rise for the Timbers and the US men’s national team after his four senior caps. 

Now, it seems the player is ready to return to his ways after intense rehab stints and training with the Timbers’ MLS NEXT Pro side. 

"Eryk had a good match with MLS NEXT Pro side T2. Of course it's still a process for him to continue to get better. But what we could see is the possibility of Eryk being a part of this game and when I say that, it's being on the bench," said Timbers head coach Gio Savarese.

The Timbers first signed the player in 2018, acquiring his Homegrown Player rights from D.C. United in exchange for $100,000 in General Allocation Money, $100,000 in Targeted Allocation money, an international spot and a second-round pick in the SuperDraft. 

After only seven appearances during his first season with the team, Williamson began to take off in 2020 with three goals and five assists in 21 games. He became an integral part of Savarese’s side before injuring himself in 2021. 

"We know that Eryk is a very important component of this team. I think we have seen his growth in the club. He was playing a lot of minutes in 2020, 2021 until he got injured. And now, he has recovered a lot faster than we expected and now he's looking more comfortable in training. We always have to be careful when someone gets that type of injury, how they're going to come back, what will be the process of them being able to step on the field,” Savarese said.

"But the fact that he's been training full, the fact that he played with T2 a few minutes makes him feel more secure in stepping on the field and being able to provide what we know he can, which is that quality on the field, the type of player that can dribble through lines, that can score goals, that can find positions higher up the field. 

“His commitment and his change in mentality now also it's an important component when we have to defend, to win balls, to counter-press. So very glad that he's on a better spot to being close to playing and be able to participate more."

The coach hinted at a possible return for the player on Sunday as the Timbers take on Orlando City at Providence Park in MLS. The Portland Timbers are currently in 10th place In the Western Conference table with four points after only one victory in four games.