The Portland Timbers missed Claudio Bravo short term following his debut for Argentina’s Olympic team. The left fullback made an impact in the games he participated in for his nation’s Olympic team. Those who follow Timbers soccer shouldn’t be surprised at his effectiveness since he was playing at such a high level before he left to represent his country in the summer Olympics.
From Portland to Tokyo and back
The Timbers are also missing Eryk Williamson, playing in the Concacaf Gold Cup, this summer. The Timbers are faced with inserting the next man up at multiple positions. Bravo was acquired from Argentina club Banfield before the start of the 2020-2021 season. This season he led his northwest MLS team in tackles, passes, pressures, blocked shots and interceptions. These statistics jump off any stat sheet and give you an indication as to why Argentina was so dedicating to including him on their national team. Argentina would like to garner another gold medal after winning in the 2008 games when they were led by world superstar Lionel Messi.
Though many European clubs refused to release players to represent their home countries in the Olympic Games, the Timbers did not take this route. After all, Argentina had highlighted Bravo’s name to be a part of their Olympic team as far back as 2019. Countries don’t have as many choices as they would like to build their teams since the rules changed and only players under 23 years of age are allowed to participate. Even though he is 24 years older, Bravo was grandfathered in because at 23 he would have been eligible for the 2020 Olympic Games had they not been delayed by the worldwide pandemic.
Bravo makes his mark on Argentina’s national team
You’d expect the Portland player this season who found his niche pretty quickly with the Timbers to make his presence felt on the international platform of Tokyo, Japan. His home country participated in Group C. He didn’t start the first game but following a 2-0 loss to Australia, he was inserted into the starting lineup of both subsequent games of first round play. Bravo’s team went on to tie or win both remaining games.
Claudio Bravo was an integral part of Argentina’s back line. Following his insertion to the starting lineup, the Egyptian players, their opponents in the second match, were held scoreless. No one was surprised that he remained in the starting lineup in the final game of the group stage against tournament favorite Spain. As part of their preparation, the Argentinian players participated in two practices each day since they were competing in one of the most challenging groups. It would be Egypt and Spain who would amass the most points and move on to the quarterfinals.
Claudio Bravo will rejoin the Timbers as soon as possible. The club will be happy to welcome him back not only because they are fighting injuries but because he posted at least one assist every single game he has played in since he played in his first game last December. We are looking forward to seeing Bravo back in a Timbers uniform in the August 4th home game against the San Jose Earthquakes.