PORTLAND, Ore. – One of the many new faces on the Timbers’ roster last season, forward Chris Bagley joined the club in 2007 hoping to help the USL First Division club capture its first championship. He was en route to aiding another Timbers playoff run when an injury cut his season short. Battling through offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia, Bagley is back, healthy, and ready to contribute in the Timbers’ journey to a championship.
“It's always frustrating to deal with injuries, but if you play long enough just about everyone has to deal with them at some point during their career,” said Bagley. “My injury last year was a confusing one because we had to rule out a few possibilities before it was determined that it was a sports hernia.”
Prior to his injury, Bagley started the Timbers’ first 19 regular-season matches and helped the team assemble an 11-3-4 record in that span with a goal and two assists. He suffered his injury in late July, and sat out five matches during the month of August. The Boston, Mass., native played sparingly through the remainder of the season until he re-injured himself against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first round of the playoffs.
“When I tried to continue to play through the pain and make it through the playoffs, I ended up causing a bit more damage. It was definitely tough watching games from the sidelines, but I was proud of the boys and the effort they put into every game.”
The complication of diagnosing a sports hernia combined with the severe pain to perform everyday tasks made Bagley’s offseason one of the toughest he’s had as a professional.
“Different doctors had different opinions on my injury and I tried to just rest,” said Bagley. “The rest wasn’t really helping me get back to normal, and I finally had surgery the first week of February. It was amazing how within two weeks of the surgery I was able to start jogging and working out without the pain I had been suffering for months. I'm just glad it's over, and I can focus on soccer and the team rather than dealing with doctors and hospitals. I’m probably not the best patient, either.”
Enduring six weeks of pain and hours of hard work, Bagley is on the fast track to recovery and, along with his teammates, is preparing for the Timbers’ upcoming season, which opens April 17 at PGE Park.
“I am still a bit behind the rest of the boys as far as fitness, but I've been participating in just about everything in training. I'm feeling better every day and ultimately should not have any effects from my offseason surgery. The doctors have told me I should have no restrictions on anything in another week. I am just working hard, getting extra fitness in and should be right where I need to be in preparing for April 17.”
Over the offseason, Bagley had a chance to reflect upon his first season in Portland. And while one of his primary goals is to up his offensive output, his focus is to continue to make an impact on the field and help the team win games.
“Personally, last year was frustrating because I wasn't scoring goals, but I felt as though I was definitely doing things to help us win. This year, I would like to get the scoring up a bit. But as long as we are winning, and I can play my role in winning, I'll be happy.”
This season, Bagley is one of several players returning from the 2007 squad that reached the league’s semifinals for the first time in modern-franchise history. Bagley is ready to build on last season’s success and take it one step farther - a USL First Division championship.
“We had a great year last season. Some of the highs for last season have to include our home record and having the best home-field advantage in the league. I feel like we also established ourselves as a team that no one looked forward to playing; that respect around the league is nice to have.
“As a team, I think anything less than making it to the final will be a disappointment. There is no reason we can't make it back. We have a majority of players back and can begin this year where we left off. Last year we started from scratch; this year, we can build off everything we started last year.”