PORTLAND, Ore. – Mike Fucito's trade to the Portland Timbers may not have registered much more than a blip outside of the Cascadia radar.
But the former Seattle Sounders sparkplug – the first player from the heated Cascadia rivalry to switch sides in its MLS incarnation – just might be able to help the Timbers escape their current funk.
At least that's what Fucito is hoping when he takes the pitch at JELD-WEN Field for the first time in a Timbers jersey Saturday against the Columbus Crew (7:30 pm PT, Presented by The Home Depot, KPTV Fox 12 | Timbers Television Network, 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940 AM).
"I can add some depth," said Fucito, who was acquired two weeks ago in a trade with Montreal. "I've had some starting experience and some experience coming off the bench. I'm just here to help score and work hard and bring some energy."
Of course, there's no indication that Fucito will start up top alongside Scottish striker Kris Boyd, or even see any playing time. Head coach John Spencer had a matter-of-fact response when asked about the team bringing Fucito aboard, simply saying, "excellent soccer player, good trade for us."
But with no goals in their last two games, and having lost five out of their last six, it seems clear the Timbers are looking at every option. Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said he expects Fucito to compete for a starting spot, and his experience and goal-scoring ability in a similar pressure-cooker-type atmosphere in Seattle made Fucito a perfect fit.
The former Harvard star had two goals in 19 matches for Seattle and two goals in CONCACAF Champions League play last year. Fucito said he thinks his high-intensity style of play will fit right in on a roster he described as very talented.
"I think some minor adjustments here and there, and having a couple things go our way," he said, "and things could turn and really start going on a good streak and in the right direction."
As for experiencing life on the other side of the Portland-Seattle rivalry, he said he likes what he sees so far.
"Very much so, enjoying the rain," he said.
And of course, there's a date marked on his calendar – June 24 – that he's especially looking forward to. That's when the Seattle Sounders come to Portland for the first time this year.
"It's always fun coming to play here, and I'd much rather have them cheering for me than against me," Fucito said of the Timbers Army. "So I'll try to use that to feed off of on the field. I was very close with that group up there and still talk to them a lot. It will be good to be playing them a couple times, that's for sure."
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.