PORTLAND, Ore. – On Tuesday at JELD-WEN Field, when Scottish striker Kris Boyd was introduced as the newest member of the Portland Timbers, there was one word on everybody’s lips: goals.
“He was obviously brought here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to score goals,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said in a press conference. “Last year, we played in some games where we created a tremendous amount of chances and never really had that No. 9 who could put the ball in the back of the net. We have a lot of guys who complement Kris really well and can run the channels and create chances for him.”
Boyd made his long-awaited debut in Portland, training for the first time with the second-year MLS club. And the Designated Player’s arrival couldn’t have been more welcome for an organization that traded its leading scorer from last season, Kenny Cooper, and lost young Designated Player Jose Adolfo Valencia, one of Colombia’s top scoring talents, to a knee injury before he could ever train with the team.
But Boyd, if he retains the form that made him a legend with Glasgow Rangers, should make those losses marginal, because the man simply scores goals.
“The No. 1 need we had was a target striker, a pure goal scorer, and we wanted to embark on a pretty comprehensive search for the player who we thought could be the right fit,” Portland owner Merritt Paulson said of the team’s offseason needs. “And we had a number of good players on our list. When we heard that Kris Boyd was available, everything dropped. Complete focus on Kris.”
The deal was announced Jan. 30, thus beginning the Boyd era. The expectations are immense, but Boyd – who is the Scottish Premier League’s all-time goal scoring leader – is ready to shoulder them.
“Obviously, they want goals,” said a bleary-eyed Boyd, still adjusting to the time change after arriving in town Monday. “It’s something you need to deal with as a challenge you put on yourself. You want to do well, you want to score goals. It’s no different from any other club I’ve been at. I want to start scoring goals as soon as possible.”
Portland is placing a lot of faith and money – Paulson said Boyd’s contract is a multi-year deal for “seven figures” – that Boyd doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The Timbers ranked 14th in MLS in goals scored last year. And while Cooper, the expansion club’s marquee signing last year, led the Timbers with eight goals, his output fell short of expectations. That was mainly due to a three-month midseason scoreless stretch for the one-time prolific striker.
Boyd’s arrival is also the start of what he hopes will be a resurrection of his career. Prior to joining Portland, Boyd spent a disappointing stint with Eskisehirspor of the Turkish Super Lig last season.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Boyd said of taking the field for Portland. “Because, as I said, the last six months has been a bad period with Turkey, and I wasn’t really playing. I want to get my career back on track, and here is a great place to do that. I want to start scoring goals as soon as possible. And I hope it doesn’t take long to get going.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org