Acquired in midseason trade, midfielder Eric Alexander settling into Portland
The Portland-Texas-Midwest triangle was in action again recently. And it could be the key to John Spencer’s playoff push.
Several prominent Timbers players have either Michigan or Ohio roots, or connections to Texas MLS teams. New Portland midfielder Eric Alexander has both.
From what he’s seen and what the coaches have told him, the midfielder sees the Timbers playing style as not too different from the one he tries to play.
“A lot of [player] movement, hard work and moving the ball about quickly,” he said recently after training.
As far as combining with any particular player on field, Alexander keeps an open mind, as he has the ability to play across the midfield. “You pass to whoever you think can make the play," said Alexander.
"It’s all about keeping the ball, moving quickly and putting together a good run of possession that can lead to a goal.”
In a close cropped styled team, Alexander’s long, fair hair stood out as he came on in the win against Chivas USA in late August. True to his professed style, he buzzed around the midfield causing problems for the opposition and looking to release his forwards.
He hopes to become a regular starter but has no illusions. “I’m not expecting anything. I’ll do whatever’s best for the team, and help us make the playoffs, which is our goal,” he said.
His first impression of the Timbers have been good. “It’s all great – the organization, the team and of course the fans," reflected Alexander. "Everyone’s been very welcoming.”
For now he has been dealing with the process of moving.
“I spent a week back in Dallas getting my stuff," said Alexander. "I’ve been exploring Portland, walking around downtown and the Pearl. Steve Purdy and Freddie Braun have been helping me out, and Mike Chabala who only recently moved here from Texas too.”
The 23-year-old played 23 times for FC Dallas this season and 19 times in 2010 after being drafted in the third round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. Born in Portage, Mich., Alexander scored 12 goals and collected 13 assists in 91 games during his four-year collegiate career at Indiana University.
A child of the Fox Soccer generation, he says he watched a lot of that channel growing up, and still does. “I watch whoever’s on," he said. "With friends or on my own, it varies.” A midfielder he greatly admires is Spanish international and Barcelona veteran Xavi.
He’s also a big NFL fan and has being playing his Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football team avidly for four years. But he doesn’t remember how he got into soccer. He has just always played it since he was a child.
“I think I made it [as a pro] because of all the hard work through the years, not because of one particular moment," said a thoughtful Alexander. "I always wanted to be a professional soccer player and knew it could happen eventually.”