The Bilingual Reporter program is designed to encourage Hispanic youth to be proud of their heritage and language. Students are nominated by their teachers and then apply to have the opportunity to interview a Timbers player or a member of the coaching staff. Following the interview, the selected students are required to write a report about the experience in English and Spanish. With a professional interview, the students are able to further develop their bilingual speaking and writing skills while exhibiting a passion for the sport.
Q&A with Colombian forward Jorge Perlaza
Written by Arturo Perez, Woodburn Academy of Art, Science & Technology
How does it feel to go out on the pitch night after night and face some of the best soccer players in the world? Players like Thierry Henry, Landon Donovan, and David Beckham among others.
It is a source of pride going out and facing these types of players knowing that they have won worldwide recognition for making a difference in the teams that they play. I think it’s good to have these types of players in the MLS because it helps grow the league.
Do you ever get nervous?
Almost always before the games you get a bit nervous and start feeling a little pressure. Once you’re on the pitch though, you’re full of confidence and begin to feel calm and try to do things right.
What attracted you to play soccer?
Since I was small, I had the opportunity to be in a soccer academy and I always liked the sport, but I never envisioned playing professional soccer. I always played for the passion, and then I grew and the opportunity developed to play club and possibly become a professional.
Being from Columbia, have you thought about setting up a camp where kids could go to expand their soccer skills and one day end up where you are at right now?
It would be very nice to give an opportunity to other children that want to succeed but for different reasons can’t. It would be very nice to have that opportunity and hopefully one day I can accomplish this.
You were one win away from going to the playoffs last year; how do you think the Timbers will work to make that happen this year?
It was our first year (in the MLS), our team was very good and we had until the last week to classify for the playoffs. Unfortunately we didn’t make the playoffs, but we are in a new season with a team full of confidence, a lot of fight, and working towards our main objective which is to make the playoffs.
Your coach, John Spencer, describe how he acts on and off the field and the kind of person he is.
He is a coach that is filled with joy. He is constantly motivating us, telling us to play our hardest and to win our games. Every once in a while he gets mad when things don’t come out as planned, but that is normal for a coach to do, and I think he is a great coach, good person and a great leader for us.
It has been said that Timbers fans are some of the loudest in the MLS. How does their support contribute to the Timbers on the field?
Every game you notice how many people come to watch us play. It is very important for us to contribute by leaving it all on the field and give fans those victories which is what they come to see.
What is one personal goal and one team goal you have for this season?
My personal goal is to score as many goals as necessary to help this team win. The team goal is to make the playoffs this season and be in the fight for the MLS Cup.
How is the atmosphere in the plane during the long road trips?
It is very calm, normal with everyone in their seat. The majority of the players try to go to sleep and rest, because they’re long plane rides which can tire you.
Growing up, which soccer player did you admire and why?
Growing up my favorite player was Ronaldo because he was great at scoring goals. In every team that he played for he made a difference and in the World Cup he scored many goals with the Brazilian national team.
How was your transition from playing in Columbia with Deportes Tolima to playing with the Timbers in their inaugural season?
An opportunity arose to play soccer here in the MLS and that seemed like a fantastic idea to me. At first, it was difficult for me to adapt to the U.S. culture, but I thank God that I had the support of a lot of people who helped me adapt.
You played in both the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores, two of the most prestigious tournaments in America, how was that experience?
It was a great experience because every player in South America aspires to play in those tournaments in addition to playing for their national team. It was a great experience for me to play in both of these tournaments and face teams who have worldwide recognition.
Do you like Oregon?
Yes, I am very happy living here in Portland. My family is happy with the tranquility of the city, the very kind people, and the support of the fans which can be felt around the city. The atmosphere is nice even though it rains a lot and is often very cold. Other than that, it is a kind city--peaceful, very passionate and beautiful.
This report is also available in Spanish.