Portland defender Nat Borchers (pictured) suffered a season-ending injury in a MLS game against the visiting LA Galaxy on July 23, 2016. (Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers)
PORTLAND, Oregon -- Whatever success the Portland Timbers will have in this season’s Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, they will have to accomplish it without veteran Nat Borchers.
The 35-year-old defender will be lost to the club for the rest of the year with a ruptured left Achilles tendon he suffered while landing awkwardly in Portland's 2-1 home loss to the LA Galaxy in major League Soccer on Saturday.
He tried to walk the injury off multiple times, but was forced to leave the game on a stretcher.
That means Borchers will miss the Timbers' entire SCCL, group-stage slate, which starts on August 3 against visiting Dragon. Surgery has not yet been scheduled.
Throughout a 12-year career that spans 340 regular-season games with three different clubs, Borchers has forged a reputation as being one of MLS’s most dependable center backs.
"He’s been a strong leader in the back line," said defender Amobi Okugo, who replaced Borchers, teaming with Jamaica international Jermaine Taylor. "It’s unfortunate to see him go down.”
With Liam Ridgewell – Borchers’ partner in the central defense -- struggling with a calf strain, the MLS champion could be without its central defensive duo for Saturday's game at Sporting Kansas City and, perhaps, for Dragon.
Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson is confident that Portland has enough depth to overcome injury issues.
“Amobi came in and did a great job, didn’t miss a beat,” Gleeson noted. “It shows the quality that we have in this team and when one person goes down there’s that guy there to step in and do the job.”
Portland has been looking to sign a center back since it freed up salary cap space when the team transferred goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey to Norway’s Rosenborg on July 18.