In the underbelly of JELD-WEN Field, new Timbers striker Kris Boyd strolls into a dimly-lit meeting room straight after a weight-lifting session with the team’s strength and conditioning group, just days after being formally introduced to Portland media and supporters.
In his short time in Portland, he’s already answered hundreds of questions and done innumerable interviews as the Timbers main goal-scoring option for the 2012 Major League Soccer season, but by understanding his road to the Rose City, it’s easy to see how all of the attention is normal for the Scotsman.
Almost cut from the same mold as his coach and fellow Scot, John Spencer, Boyd doesn’t dance around questions, and is quick with both substance and wit — qualities that will surely endear him to Timbers fans.
WATCH: Boyd's first MLS goal
Lots of attention has been lavished on his goal-scoring prowess. How he presently is the highest goal-scorer in the 14-year history of the Scottish Premier League. How he finished on top of the league in goals scored four times during his 10-year stint in Scotland in addition to all the expectations of scoring goals en masse for the Timbers.
Get him off the topic of soccer though and his face lights up the dark room.
“I was a pain,” Boyd said, recounting his status as the oldest of four children. “I was the one that was always getting up to mischief.”
Boyd is still close to all his siblings, the youngest being his 22-year-old brother. The other two are a 26-year-old sister and a 24-year-old brother.
“They’re happy with their lives as well, they’ve got good jobs,” Boyd said. “They’ve done a bit of traveling, they’ve seen around the world.”
“To be fair, I was probably the one that was left at home because the rest have all been away and seen Australia and Canada and places like that and so it was my turn to go on with it this time.”
Boyd also has two of his own kids to keep an eye on. Soon to be joining the striker in Portland are his fiancé, Christine, and their daughters Brook (8) and Savanna (4).
“I think the 4-year-old is the one that should be 8 to be honest by the way she goes on,” Boyd said with an ear-to-ear grin. “They’re great.”
While his wedding to Christine is scheduled for this summer, things will surely be a bit of an adjustment from the comforts and closeness of relatives across the ocean.
“My mom and dad try to help out as much as they can (with the kids),” said Boyd, who signed his first professional contract with Scottish side Kilmarnock days after his 16th birthday in 1999. “And Christine, her mom and dad try to help out as much as they can as well because it’s difficult for her with the two kids, but they’re getting to the age when they’re old enough to look after themselves.”
Back on the topic of his career, the conversation takes on a more serious tone as Boyd delves into his early days, a frustrating attempt to play in Turkey and his decision to come to the Rose City.
Boyd joined Kilmarnock’s youth academy at 12-years old and quickly progressed through, signing professionally at 16. He went on to play with “Killie” until halfway through the 2005-2006 season when he made the switch to Scottish powerhouse Rangers in the January transfer window.
“I was only 17, 18 starting out and I wanted to establish myself in the soccer world,” Boyd said as he tugged at his green Timbers skullcap. “For me, I had to work hard for what I had and what I’ve got. Looking back at it now, nobody would give you anything, you had to work for everything you had and I’ve done that.”
Boyd certainly showed his quality in 4 1/2 years playing for Rangers, helping the club win the SPL title twice during his time in Glasgow.
A quick stint with Middlesbrough of the English Football League Championship saw Boyd struggle to earn regular playing time, but a loan deal to Nottingham Forest helped right the ship.
It was in that short time with Forest that Boyd impressed then-manager Billy Davies, John Spencer’s brother-in-law, which ultimately would connect Boyd with the Timbers.
“When I got the phone call from Billy Davies to go to Nottingham Forest, it really got me going again,” Boyd said. “I hadn’t started a game in a long time and when I got to Forest they were in a position to challenge for a playoff spot (for promotion to the Premier League). We got into the playoffs, but we got beat by Swansea City (in the semifinals).”
In between Forest and the Timbers was a months-long struggle with Turkish club Eskişehirspor in which Boyd appeared in just two matches.
“I’d lived with regret the rest of my life if I hadn’t done it. Looking back, I probably regret going now, but it’s one of these things,” Boyd said. “For me it was a pretty wasted three or four months of my life because I wasn’t playing and I never got to see my family that much.”
“My next move had to be based on football, based on me getting my career back on track,” he concluded.
Luckily for the Timbers, that next move would come in the Rose City.
“I got a call from Portland to say there was a bit of interest there. Once I looked into it, I had made my mind up,” Boyd said. “It’s a bit more like back home in a way that the fans show a passion for the game and it’s one that I want to get involved in and help take the club forward as much as we can.”
Conversations with Spencer and Davies made the decision to play in Portland a simple one.
“When people like that speak, you listen,” Boyd said. “I looked at a few things myself and when you see the fans out there as well it makes you feel that you have a club that has supporters that will stay loyal to you.”
A passionate comfort level Boyd has grown accustomed.
“That’s what I’ve been used to with the Rangers fans,” he continued. “I always had that great bond with them; they helped me do what I’ve done at the club. I hope that it’s the same here. It’s up to me to show them that I’m good enough to earn their support.”
Of course, there had to be one inquiry about goals. Boyd scored his first career goal with the Timbers in the 66th minute of a season-opening 3-1 win over Philadelphia on March 12.
“I’d be lucky if I’ve scored five or six of them in my career. That’s maybe being generous to myself,” Boyd said of scoring aesthetically pleasing goals – although his goal against the Union could easily fit that bill. “For me, tapping them in from 2 yards is the same as scoring from 35 yards.”
Be sure to pick up the latest edition of Green & White Magazine at the next home match at JELD-WEN Field on March 31, 2012 when the Portland Timbers host Real Salt Lake. Obstructed view tickets are still available exclusively at the JELD-WEN Field Box Office.