PORTLAND, Ore. — Jack Jewsbury has become an instant fan favorite in the Rose City, and on Sunday, his teammates officially agreed.
A day after the Timbers finished their inaugural MLS season with a 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake, "Captain Jack" was honored as Portland's player of the year as voted upon by his teammates. Recognized during the the team's end-of-season STAND TOGETHER Awards Banquet held at The Nines hotel in downtown Portland, the event benefited the Portland Timbers Community Fund.
Jewsbury praised the support of the club and his fellow players in his acceptance speech.
"First, I want to say thank you to all of my teammates," said Jewsbury. "To be given this from them is truly something special. Obviously we fell short of some of our goals, but I think at the end of the day, this group has something truly to be proud of and something that we're looking forward to the future with this club."
In helping the Timbers stay in the thick of the playoff race until the final game of the season, Jewsbury posted career highs in points (22), goals (seven) and assists (eight). He was the only player in MLS this season to post multiple four-game streaks of earning points in consecutive games.
The nine-year veteran, who was acquired from Sporting Kansas City in an offseason trade, earned his first MLS All-Star selection and was one of the top vote getters by fans at the midfield position.
"When I first got traded here, I'll be honest, I was a little nervous," Jewsbury said. "I had been somewhere for eight years in Kansas City, and it felt comfortable. And to be somewhere different for me and my family was hard. They made everything as easy as could be for us and a smooth transition and I truly appreciate that and I'm sure my wife would say the same."
Also receiving team awards on Sunday were forward Kenny Cooper (Golden Boot), goalkeeper Troy Perkins (Supporters' Player of the Year), midfielder Kalif Alhassan (Young Player of the Year) and reserve goalkeeper Jake Gleeson (MLS W.O.R.K.S./Timbers Humanitarian of the Year).
Cooper, the team's signature preseason signing after two seasons in Germany's Bundesliga, and four with FC Dallas, led the Timbers with eight goals on the season. Perkins, who spent his previous five seasons with D.C. United, recorded a career-high nine shutouts.
"It's a wall of energy behind you that you can really feed on," Perkins said of playing in front of the infamous Timbers Army. "I love playing at home and getting the other goalkeeper in there first because dealing with that Timbers Army is probably the most imposing thing in the league. To have them on your side, it just builds your confidence. When they applaud you for the effort and the work, it really makes you feel special."
Among other awards, rookie midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe's juggling goal Jul. 2 against Kansas City was voted as the team's best Play of the Year.
And while the evening was as much about celebrating and recognizing a successful inaugural 2011 season, the banquet also included an auction to benefit the team's community fund--one which supports organizations committed to education, youth sports, health and fitness, and the enviornment. Created by the team as part of the organization's community efforts under the STAND TOGETHER initiative, the fund is sponsored by Alaska Airlines, Burgerville, JELD-WEN, and PGE.
"At the Portland Timbers, we really try to help the community as much as possible," goalkeeper Gleeson said. "So any opportunity that any of our teammates get to help out is obviously a big one and we jump at it."
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.