Portland Timbers rookie defender Taylor Peay learning the ropes
Taylor Peay made the first jump of his career from Utah to Seattle, heading to the Northwest to play college ball on a national stage. Now the former Real Salt Lake U-18 defender is settling into his new home in the Rose City, ready to learn and train with the Portland Timbers for his first season as a pro.
Selected by the Timbers with the 26th overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, Peay is a quick and tall 6’2 185 lbs. defender who spent much of his time at center back for the University of Washington Huskies.
The Salt Lake City native should be immediately recognizable to collegiate soccer fans in the Pacific Northwest. As a senior at UW, Peay was selected as First Team All-Pac-12 and was a First Team NSCAA All-American. He often found himself on the attacking end of the pitch too, scoring six goals in 22 starts for the Huskies.
Although scouted by several teams, Peay wasn’t even aware the Timbers had him as a target come SuperDraft time. He told Timbers.com that the selection came as a shock, “I was so excited to come to Portland, and I had no idea.”
How Peay shakes out within head coach Caleb Porter’s system still has yet to be determined. The 22-year-old played his entire senior season in the middle of the defense for the Huskies, but has the flexibility to play in the outside back positions due to his athletic ability and speed. At the SuperDraft combine, Peay logged the fastest 30-meter sprint time at 3.92 seconds.
With height and athleticism as assets, Peay continues to strengthen his full skillset in order to someday make the Portland matchday 18.
“I like to play to my abilities—that’s running—and if I can do that well and add on passing, I think that I could one day become a complete player,” said Peay.
In the Timbers’ three preseason games in Tucson, Peay got his first taste of playing time, matching up in the fullback position. He also got his first experience in the Cascadia rivalry during a 0-0 draw with the Seattle Sounders on Feb. 8.
Despite playing his college ball at Washington, Peay says he didn’t really have a grasp on just how big the rivalry was.
“I had never been. I’ve seen glimpses of it on TV, but I had my first little taste of it down in Tucson, which was pretty cool,” said Peay, adding, “It was crazy.”
For the Timbers, the main goal will be getting their rookie training and experience during his first season in MLS. Timbers have a staunch back line, and seeing time against first team veterans like Pa Modou Kah, Jack Jewsbury and Michael Harrington should be great for his development.
“There are always those guys that you want to follow their training habits and their tendencies and all that stuff. There’s definitely good role models on the team for all of us rookies,” said Peay.
With the team on the road until April 5, Peay has been sent on loan to the Orange County Blues of the USL PRO, where head coach Caleb Porter is hopeful he will be able to get some competitive playing time. Only time will tell whether or not Timbers fans will be able to see Peay in action this season, but the rookie isn’t shy about his affinity for the organization and the opportunity making the roster presented for him.
“[Portland has] the top players, top staff, top fans—everything. So it was an exciting feeling.”