By Ben Golliver
Portland Timbers Announce 4 Player Signings For MLS
The Portland Timbers, who competed in the United States Soccer Federation's Division 2 in 2010, will join Major League Soccer as an expansion franchise next season. During a much-anticipated press conference Tuesday morning the Timbers announced the first round of player signings to their MLS roster.
The organization's technical director, Gavin Wilkinson, listed off the four names one-by-one to increase the suspense inside a packed room at The Nines hotel. Wilkinson started by saying he appreciated the contributions from the entire 2010 Timbers roster, but that he was "only going to take the best of that group.”
First up was burly forward Bright Dike, who Wilkinson called "a phenomenal young gentleman, a great professional.” Dike was originally drafted by the MLS's Columbus Crew but eventually found his way to Portland when things didn't work out. “It was a blessing in disguise," Dike called that transition process. "I can't wait for this season to show my quality.” Dike scored 10 goals in 23 games played during 2010.
Next up was one of the obvious no-brainers: goalkeeper Steve Cronin. The Santa Clara University product has a great soccer pedigree, having trained with the U-17 national team as a teenager. Cronin conceded just 22 goals in 28 games this season, notching 12 shutouts along the way. “To do it for this organization and this city Is the most important thing to me,” Cronin said of his signing today.
Third was another no-brainer: midfielder Ryan Pore, who led the Timbers with 15 goals in 2010. Pore is known for his speed and competitive spirit, as he freely jaws with referees and opponents alike. Wilkinson called Pore a "tremendous athlete" as he adorned him with a Timbers scarf. "I'm confident in my abilities that will translate to the next level,” Pore said with a big smile.
Last up was the day's biggest surprise: attacker Eddie Johnson, who played for the Austin Aztex in 2010. Johnson scored 15 goals last season and said Tuesday he expects to create chances for others as well. “The organization has shown confidence in me and hopefully I can repay that,” he said, looking humbled by the reception in his new home.
Ben Golliver is a freelance writer, native Oregonian and avid follower of the Timbers.Ãƒâ€š He editsBlazersedge, co-hostsÃƒâ€š The Dontonio Wingcast and regularly contributes toÃƒâ€š SB Nation. Follow him onTwitter.