When ex-Portland Timbers striker Brian Fernandez announced he signed with Club Atlético Colón in Argentina, it appeared he had landed on his feet after substance abuse issues forced him out of Major League Soccer. But after weeks of Fernandez failing to report to training, Colón has suspended him, according to reports in Argentina.
In the latest string of troubles for Fernandez, the 25-year-old striker told TyC Sports he was robbed of his Rolex at gunpoint on his way to training Tuesday, which caused him to miss practice.
“It was all because I uploaded a video saying that in Santa Fe, I’m in charge, but it was a joke to [expletive] with them and they took it very badly,” Fernandez told the Argentine television station, describing the robbers who allegedly targeted him. “They came and said, ‘Are you Brian, the one who rules Santa Fe?’ He pointed a gun at my head and took my watch. Obviously I got scared, I got in the truck and wanted to leave. When I was there, they threw a brick at me, but nothing happened to me.”
Fernandez has frequently missed Colón training sessions since he joined the team Jan. 10, and this latest incident was apparently the last straw. According to TyC Sports, he was removed from the roster Tuesday and will be assigned to work on his recovery with two doctors, with a chance to later rejoin the team.
This most recent ordeal comes after Fernandez made headlines two weeks ago when family reported him as a missing person and he missed a week of training sessions. Police later confirmed Fernandez was found staying at a friend’s house.
Media outlets in Argentina and fans immediately speculated over Fernandez’s widely-known drug addiction issues, but Fernandez told reporters he was in hiding due to threats he received.
— Club Atlético Colón (@ColonOficial) January 11, 2020
Fernandez joined the Portland Timbers in May last year on a record-high transfer fee for the club, but he only lasted about six months before the league terminated his contract for violating its substance abuse policy.
Before his unceremonious exit from MLS, he was shuffled in and out of the Timbers starting lineup for weeks while the club said publicly that Fernandez had a stomach virus. He entered the substance abuse program Oct. 7 and said he did so voluntarily to get his life back on track. Sources have hinted at a more dire picture of Fernandez’s substance abuse ongoing long before he entered the program and problematic behavior, such as missing training sessions.
By Nov. 15, his Timbers contract was terminated. The MLS collective bargaining agreement states the MLS commissioner may terminate a player “at any time without further obligation” if the player “is subjected to any penalties for testing positive for a banned substance, for noncompliance, or for refusal to submit to a drug test.”
When the Timbers signed Fernandez as a high-priced designated player, his bouts with drug addiction were widely known. He was caught twice using cocaine during the 2014/15 season when he played for Argentina’s Racing Club and served suspensions, missing nearly two years on the field because of positive drug tests.
As Portland announced his signing last year, Fernandez was in the middle of serving a three-game ban in Liga MX for getting into an argument and spitting at a fan. At the time, the Timbers insisted they carefully vetted him and didn’t think his past problems would affect his performance in Portland.
The Timbers are now reportedly locked in a legal battle with Fernandez’s former team, Club Necaxa, to recoup some of the MLS club’s transfer fee paid for the striker.