Former USL Portland Timbers player Keith Savage returns to Rose City with the Tampa Bay Rowdies

Savage on the Rowdies' USOC run and fond Portland memories

Keith Savage, Tampa Bay Rowdies

Photo Credit: 
Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rowdies

On Wednesday, the Portland Timbers will host the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup (7:30pm PT; Tickets, webstream, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940).

This will be the first matchup between the two sides since 2010, when the Rowdies were known as FC Tampa Bay and the Timbers competed as a second-division side. Though it was only three years ago, only five total players from the most recent matchup are still with the two organizations. Keith Savage is among those five, and he is the only one who has played for both teams.

Born and raised in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Savage played collegiate soccer at the University of West Florida before being drafted by Chivas USA in 2008. He played six league games for Chivas USA before signing with the second-division Portland Timbers in 2009. Savage played 40 games for the Timbers over two seasons. He now returns to Portland to face his old team in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.

Savage answered questions about the Rowdies current season, their USOC run, and his fondest memories of Portland.

You are in your third season with the Rowdies and helped the team win the NASL championship a season ago. How has your time with the club been?
KS: My time with Tampa has been incredible. I have enjoyed seeing the club and the team continue to get better every season and the result was a Championship last season.

Coming of winning the title last year, how would you summarize the 2013 season to date? What have been the keys to the team’s success on the road this season?
KS: We have very high expectations because we were the champions so we are upset about our results at home before the big Seattle win. We have been playing good soccer at times, but have not had the same consistency that our coach expects from us. Saying that, we have a great group of guys and a lot of experience and that has led to a good record on the road and keeping us in the hunt for top of the league.

You guys are one of just two remaining NASL clubs in the U.S. Open Cup. How would you describe the team’s cup run so far?
KS: This is the furthest we have gone in the U.S. Open Cup and credit to our coaching staff for giving us the confidence we needed to get a big result against Seattle. Some players had some huge plays for us to get here and of course you need a little luck, we are excited to continue the opportunity in Portland.

Keith Savage with USL Timbers in 2010
Photo: Michael Stringfield / Portland Timbers

After defeating Seattle Sounders FC in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, you get to make a return to Portland for a fourth-round match against the Timbers. What are your favorite memories of your time with the Timbers? Anything in particular you are looking forward to?
KS: Some of my greatest memories are of course the amazing fans and atmosphere they create. Winning the regular season at home in front of them was a special memory. I'm looking forward to seeing some of those teammates and coaches who are still on the team and staff. I loved Portland and I am also looking forward to visiting the city, some great friends, and of course some food spots that I've missed!

Coming in as an opponent, what are you expecting or looking forward to when you step on the field at JELD-WEN Field once again?
KS: I'm looking forward to matching up against some of the best players in MLS. Portland is having a great year and it is always great as a player to see where you stand and what you can do to improve. I'm really looking forward to playing in the newly renovated stadium in front of the Timbers Army again.