With the advent of Major League Soccer coming to Portland in just a few short months, we reached out to a number of current MLS players who have some tie to Portland either having played here in the United Soccer League days, or in college, or via U.S. Open Cup clashes. We wanted to know what they remembered about the city, the fans, and also see what players and coaches are talking about for Portland next season.
The L.A. Galaxy’s Bryan Jordan, like Chivas USA’s Alan Gordon and San Jose Earthquakes’ Ryan Johnson, is another quick striker who got their start playing at Oregon State University. Jordan began his professional career with the USL edition Timbers in 2007 who utilized his sparkplug talents to rise from a last place finish in 2006 to the playoff semifinals in 2007. After trialing with the Galaxy and in the Pan-Pacific Championship tournament and their Asian tour in 2008, he was signed to the team and made 35 appearances over the past three seasons. In 2010, Jordan helped the Galaxy win the MLS Supporter’s Shield with the best regular season record.
While his time in Portland was brief, Jordan knows the effect the team and then head coach and current technical director/general manager Gavin Wilkinson had on his career and getting him ready for the top level.
How did being in Portland help shape you and get you ready for Major League Soccer?
Bryan Jordan: I had a lot of really good memories in Portland being that was my true rookie year just out of college. Coming in there, I got a lot of confidence and playing under Gavin [Wilkinson] who was the coach at the time. The group of guys that we had that year was a really good group so it taught me a whole bunch of things as far as stuff both on and off the field. There was definitely a whole bunch of different characters that you find on each team so I learned a whole bunch of stuff about that. As far as on the field, we had a great, great year actually and just got nicked off in the playoffs. As far as training and bringing concentration to every day at practice, I learned a lot of things about how to handle myself, how to approach the games, and just how to be a professional. The fans up there are really good too. I enjoyed my time up there.
I’m curious to hear what you’re interested to see with the Timbers and with the fans. What will it be like to come back on the other side?
BJ: Obviously, with the Timbers Army, as far as that goes . . . [laughs] . . . They’re always a great supporters group. One thing I always remember is they were always really positive so coming back in, to be playing against them, I think it might be kind of funny to hear what the reactions are. Hopefully with me coming back, there’ll be some good things to say. But you never know how it goes.
Do you think that there’s talk around the league about Portland’s arrival?
BJ: Personally, I think with Seattle just coming up last year I think [the players] know a little more about it now whereas they might not have known about it before. I always tell the guys with Seattle coming into the league and how well they’re doing with their supporters and stuff like this, that this is a really competitive area up in the Northwest. I can only imagine that Portland plans on doing some of the same things and trying to achieve even better things than Seattle was able to. I think it’s going to be really good with them coming into the league and get that Northwest rivalry again.
You came to LA at a really exciting time both with Landon Donovan already there and then there was David Beckham’s arrival. What’s it like playing in that environment?
BJ: Coming in, just from a training standpoint, I get to train with these guys every day and watch how they do things and learn these things that these guys have been doing in their careers. I take away stuff every day for bettering my game. When we travel, obviously there’s buzz around these players and what they bring to the league is really good. As for myself, I think I just take away that kind of stuff and for me there’s the exposure that they get the team. It’s put me in a good situation to where even though I’m competing against these guys for slots which might be the difficult part, I think it’s been really positive for me.
Anything else you want to say to Portland and Timbers fans?
BJ: Welcome to the league and we’re very excited for you guys.