PORTLAND, Ore. -- Renzo Zambrano is in the middle of his third year in Portland, one that’s seen him make his first major impact on the Timbers’ Major League Soccer squad.
A key part of the organization’s USL team, Timbers 2, from the middle of 2017 on, the Venezuelan international has worked his way into contention at the next level, earning five MLS starts since his league debut in Houston on May 15. Having made two other appearances in U.S. Open Cup, Zambrano has been a valuable piece as head coach Giovanni Savarese manages a congested summer.
Timbers.com caught up with the 24-year-old midfielder during Tuesday’s media availability to see how he’s feeling about his first extended MLS run.
Timbers.com: How is your life different when you’re primarily with the first team, as opposed to living your life between the two squads (Timbers and Timbers 2)?
Zambrano: Well, I look at it as a challenge, because it’s something new. But it’s also something I’ve been working toward, to continue meeting the objectives of yesterday so I can reach new levels. The thing is to try and compete to play in each match, focus on training better with the team, as well as fitting in with the guys.
Because as of today, I haven’t played a lot of games with the guys. I think about every day, or every game, every training trying to feel a little more familiar, because I want to continue to improve. I want to continue moving forward, raising my level.
But (the situation) good. I hope I don’t have a ceiling, right now, because I want to keep learning.
Q: In the big picture, how important have these last two months been to your life, to your career, that you’re playing regularly at the MLS level?
RZ: Yes, it’s important for me, but when I really think about, I need to maintain this. Because, like I said, it’s working every day, climbing the steps, raising my level. I am out here, training every day, playing in games.
But also, each of my teammates is working for this, which creates this beautiful competition. It makes the friendships more beautiful here, and for the family that we are.
This is the type of place I want to be in: everybody working on the same level; something that’s also very important for the mentality of the team. That’s why I’m very happy, having something like this that can help me maintain my form.
Q: A lot of the minutes you’ve had this year have been alongside “Ruso” (Andrés Flores) in midfield. You two are close friends. Does it make it more significant to be getting this playing time when it’s next to somebody you’re so close to?
RZ: Ruso and I are definitely close friends, both on and off the field. I do feel comfortable with him. But also, I feel very comfortable when I’m (playing) with (Diego) Chara, or Cristhian (Paredes). We’ve created (this dynamic).
And, of course, I’ve had important minutes with Ruso, something he’s worked for, too. It’s something that makes me happy, that I can go out on the field, play in games with somebody I consider a friend. But does make it special, because we are friends, both on and off the field.