Ned Grabavoy, Timbers vs. SJ, 6.1.16

Portland Timbers midfielder Ned Grabavoy hit a significant milestone last weekend in the team’s regular-season match against the Colorado Rapids: 300 career MLS appearances.

In a league that’s seen thousands of players take to the field, Grabavoy becomes only the 39th player in MLS history to achieve the feat and joins two other Timbers on the list: midfielder Jack Jewsbury and defender Nat Borchers.

Grabavoy reflected on the accomplishment and how much has changed since he was a rookie out of Indiana University—where current Timbers head coach Caleb Porter was then an assistant—when he first took to the field with the LA Galaxy during the 2004 season.

“I think it’s one of those milestones that I’ll look back to when I first started in the league and how much the landscape has completely changed,” he said. “How much better the play is and the amount of talent in the league.”

Along with winning an MLS Cup with LA in 2005, Grabavoy’s career includes stops in Columbus, San Jose, Real Salt Lake—where he won another MLS Cup in 2009—and NYC FC. Acquired by the Timbers ahead of the 2016 offseason as their first free agent signing, Grabavoy has appeared in 21 games this year as well as playing in three Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League games.

A hard-nosed player, Grabavoy believes much of his long period of success has come from continued determination to his craft.

“I had to keep improving as I went along,” he said. “I could’ve just gotten into Major League Soccer and just gone about every day, but I had to keep pushing and keep trying to improve because as I said, the league has gotten better and better.”

Grabavoy has also been blessed with a relatively injury-free career and his resiliency through the years has been one of his greatest strengths. Over the past 10 seasons, the midfielder has appeared in at least 20 MLS games each year.

“It’s fortunate, too, that I haven’t had any major injuries,” said Grabavoy. “I’ve played injured for a lot of them, certainly never wouldn’t have made it to 300 if I didn’t play through a lot of injuries.”

Though Grabavoy’s 300th career MLS game ended up as a 1-0 loss to Colorado, he was proud of the milestone and clear about looking ahead to the final games of the season as the Timbers make their push to qualify for the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs.

“It’s bittersweet a little bit because it comes at a time in the season when it’s so important for us to win games that I just don’t want to focus on any of [this] stuff,” he said after the game.