Forward Lucas Melano, who signed with the Portland Timbers on Friday, is eager to get to work.
The Argentine, 22, comes to the Rose City as Lanús’s leading scorer through 14 games in the 2015 Argentine Primera División season. Growing up in Hernando, Argentina, Melano is the eldest of three children. He made his professional debut with Argentine first-division side Belgrano in 2012 before heading to Lanús to play under former MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto in 2013. The forward, who has played at the national team U-20 level, can play as a winger or as a lone striker and helped Lanús win the 2013 Copa Sudamericana title.
Now arrived in Portland, Melano talks via translator about his excitement in joining the club and the most important item he managed to bring with him to his new home.
Q: What are you most excited about, coming to play for the Portland Timbers?
"The first thing is that the Timbers actually took an interest in me, which meant a lot. I’d been studying the club for a while and the fact that there are so many Argentines here on the team itself had a big impact as well. The fact that the city is so beautiful and the facilities here are fantastic, top notch. They all played together and I'm really happy to be here and excited to join the team."
What did you know about the Timbers before you were contacted by the club?
"The first time I heard about the Timbers actually was because I joined Lanús six months after Diego Valeri left for the Timbers, so that was my first knowledge of the team itself. Since then, they don't broadcast the Timbers games, so I couldn't follow them on TV, but through Twitter and retweets and Diego's account, I was able to keep tabs on the team and I'm really happy to be here and be another member of the squad."
With the team having such a strong contingent of Argentine players already, how do you think that will help you adjust to the team and to the league?
"I think it's going to help tremendously, just having that influence here and that knowledge of cultures to be able to help me adapt to the league and to the team as well. I'm also looking forward to finishing off the season strong with the team and being able to adapt myself looking toward the future as well."
Did you know much about Portland as a city before you were contacted by the Timbers?
"No, just by name. I had never been to the United States before. This is actually my first time. I had heard of the name, but didn't really know of the city at all. But since I got here I'm so impressed by how beautiful and how tranquil the city itself is. Every day I'm finding more and more beautiful things about the town. I'm happy to be here."
What's one thing you felt you had to bring with you here from Argentina?
"Although it was very rushed getting here and there were a lot of things I had to leave behind, the one thing I knew I couldn't leave behind in Argentina and that so many Argentines on the team did bring, was the mate.
Also, just bringing a lot of desire and ambition to really get out on the field, qualify for the playoffs, win a Cup, and sporting-wise really have a chance to succeed in Portland."
Timbers.com just had a video with the Argentine players in which they talk about how they bond over the mate tradition. Have you seen the video?
"Yes, I saw the video. Everywhere, all the soccer clubs in Argentina and any sort of meeting, there's always mate involved. That's one thing that's part of our culture that we're happy to share here."