Alumni ambassadors join Timbers' celebration
PORTLAND, Ore. – It was early 1975 when Mick Hoban gazed out the window of the jet as it approached the Portland airport and saw a raft of logs floating in the Columbia River.
“I had wondered, ‘What was this Timbers bit about?’” Hoban recalled. “That told me quickly.”
Hoban, the first member of the NASL Portland Timbers to arrive in the city, spent several months working in a community relations capacity to drum up interest in the new team.
Three-and-a-half decades later, as Portland inch closer to their first season in MLS, the club is making an effort to connect the past to the present. After all, the Timbers may be a first-year MLS franchise, but there is a rich legacy already in place.
The team has announced that five former Timbers from the NASL and USL eras will serve as alumni ambassadors during the 2011 season: Hoban, John Bain, Jim Brazeau, Bernie Fagan and Lee Morrison.
The group will represent the team at various community appearances, events and speaking engagements this year, and will also occasionally assist with Timbers youth camps and clinics. The five join Scot Thompson, who became the team’s official community ambassador on Jan. 19.
Bain (right) played five seasons from 1978-82 and was the NASL Timbers’ all-time leading scorer with 45 goals and 55 assists in 148 games. He remains a prominent youth soccer club coach in the Portland suburb of Beaverton.
“It’s great that [the name] is still the Timbers, because it brings some history with it,” Bain said. “A lot of clubs don’t have that 35 years of background."
The original Timbers didn’t just introduce the region to the game of soccer. Some of them stayed and grew the game so that it became part of the city’s culture.
Fagan, for one, was a Timbers defender for three seasons (1980-82) and then spent the past 28 coaching collegiately – at Portland State and Warner Pacific College in Portland. He also founded the Oregon Soccer Academy.
Hoban, who played four seasons (1975-78) slid into a job as Nike’s first-ever soccer employee and later worked with Umbro USA. Today, he is an independent soccer-marketing consultant.
Brazeau was a goalkeeper who played in college for noted coach Jimmy Conway, a former Timbers player. He played for the indoor Portland Pride and spent eight seasons as Timbers goalkeeping coach (2001-05, '07-09).
He is also the head coach of men’s soccer at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore.
Morrison was a defender for the Timbers for five seasons (2003-07) and played in 113 games, and played professionally for the Dallas Burn and Kansas City Wizards. A first-round pick of Dallas in the 2002 MLS SuperDraft, he was a three-time All-American at Stanford. Today, he coaches with Bridlemile Soccer and works in commercial real estate in Portland.
“We are excited to bring back to the organization this group of former Timbers,” Timbers chief operating officer Mike Golub said. “These past players have already done so much for the sport and for the community here in Portland, and we are eager to have them represent the club in our inaugural MLS season.”