Fresh off making a trade to bolster their depth at forward, the Portland Timbers were once again making moves. This time, they addressed their struggling defense, signing Scottish left back Steven Smith. To make room for Smith, the Timbers also announced they had cut midfielder James Marcelin.
"Steven has impressed us, both on the field and as a person, during his trial," Timbers coach John Spencer said in a team release. "He is a hard-working defender who possesses a winning mentality. Steven has been a part of successful clubs throughout his career and has experience at high levels, including playing in the Champions League."
Smith most recently played for English League One side Preston North End in 2011-12, but has also played for Norwich City and Rangers FC. During his seven years with Rangers (2003-10), he even appeared in UEFA Champions League and Europa competition. He was also a teammate of current Timbers forward Kris Boyd for four seasons in Scotland.
Smith and Preston North End mutually agreed to terminate his contract earlier this month, two months before it was set to run out. As a free, he did not require any transfer and was thus made available for the Timbers to sign him after the close of the transfer window.
Smith will almost certainly be able to compete for minutes right away. The left back position is currently being manned by Mike Chabala, who has been solid but unspectacular.
The decision to cut Marcelin comes as a bit of a surprise. The Haitian midfielder was one of the team's first MLS signings and played in 20 of 34 matches in 2011, including 12 starts. He had played in three matches this season.
"James was waived for non-soccer-related reasons," Timbers General Manager Gavin Wilkinson said in a statement. "This organization has a high level of professional expectations for all its players."