Until this past offseason, Portland Timbers defender Chance Myers had spent his entire professional career in Kansas City.
Myers had been in Kansas City long enough to not only see the team rebrand itself from the Kansas City Wizards to the newer Sporting Kansas City, but also to see the city grow into a burgeoning Midwest soccer town.
Landing in Soccer City U.S.A. as one of the club’s offseason free agent signings then felt like the only natural progression left for the accomplished 10-year pro.
“I think it's pretty easy coming to Portland,” Myers said in a recent interview with Timbers.com. “Not only the talent on the roster, the whole organization–the way they run everything–and just the soccer culture in general, it's very like-minded with Kansas City. I felt at home when I came and visited. Guys on the street just wearing Timbers stuff–it was just a good feeling walking around town.”
And bringing Myers to the Timbers also addressed one of the club’s primary offseason aims.
“One of our main goals this offseason was to increase competition and add more cover in every position,” said Porter at the time of Myers' signing. “Chance Myers will be a good fit in our system and provides attacking and defending balance to the right back position. Chance is also another piece that will raise the level and compete for his minutes, and with this signing we feel our roster is in a good spot in that role."
Myers understands this role perfectly.
“I'm hoping to bring a lot of leadership inside the locker room and on the field, competing for spots,” he said. “Competition's good. It's going to lead to guys staying sharp and performing well. So that's my goal, just bringing a winning mentality day-in and day-out.”
Myers brings with him extensive experience in MLS regular-season and postseason play. In nine seasons with Sporting Kansas City, the versatile defender appeared in nearly 150 matches, including 10 appearances in the MLS postseason, five of which came during Sporting's run to their 2013 MLS Cup title.
But soccer has always been in Myers' blood, dating back to the California native's days of kicking the ball around during recess with his classmates.
His dedication to the sport took him first to UCLA, where in only two seasons with the Bruins, he started in 26 matches before deciding to leave college early to enter the 2008 MLS SuperDraft as part of that year's Generation adidas class. There, Myers was taken with the first overall selection by the then-Kansas City Wizards.
By 2011, Myers was a regular in Kansas City's starting lineup, the fullback eventually became a crucial component of head coach Peter Vermes' defense contributing seven assists in 2012 and scoring two goals and three assists in their MLS Cup season in 2013.
Now with the Timbers, Myers hopes to help his new head coach in any way that he can, whether that's leading in the locker room, providing competition in practice, or contributing on the field.
“I've already scored once for you guys,” Myers joked, referencing an own goal he scored in 2012 while still with Kansas City. “So hopefully I'll score a few more this season.”
But the player who will appear at Providence Park this season may be unrecognizable from the one that took the field for years with Sporting.
The formerly long-haired and mustachioed Myers reported to Timbers camp this offseason with a clean-cut look that surprised those who saw him. Myers, though, says there's a simple explanation for the new look.
“I got married over the offseason, so I didn't want to look back at myself 30 years from now with long, scraggly hair and a mustache,” he said.
“It'll come back,” he added. “Eventually.”