The timing of David Horst’s three years with the Portland Timbers leaves him as part of a group whose significance will transcend their numbers – players whose contributions during the club’s first MLS seasons helped take the team from expansion lessons to third-year success. By the end of that third year, Horst’s time in Portland was done, but over 38 appearances in central defense during his first two Timbers seasons, Horst provided a rare point of consistency within an evolving squad.
Over the course of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Horst was second among Timbers central defenders in appearances, starts and minutes played, with only Eric Brunner eclipsing his marks. And on June 24, 2012, Horst authored his signature moment in green and gold, scoring what would hold up as the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Seattle Sounders FC. That day’s log slab also celebrated Horst’s first MLS goal.
Now retired, Horst has established a new life in the game, one that leverages his experience from nine years and 148 regular-season appearances in Major League Soccer. Recently, Timbers.com caught up with the former Real Salt Lake, Portland and Houston Dynamo defender to talk slabs, rivalries, and new careers in the sport:
This year marks the 10th MLS season for the Timbers. You were one of the inaugural members of the club, being selected in the MLS Expansion Draft. What are some of your favorite memories from that first MLS season in 2011, helping pave the way for the club's MLS era?
My favorite memory will always be the first time I walked out of the tunnel underneath the Timbers Army and hearing how loud they were. It made me feel like I could take on the world. Besides that moment, I think the way that the community embraced the team as a whole was incredible, because it didn't matter if you were a starter or never dressed for a game, they loved you just the same. I don't think anywhere else in the MLS could a player grow a mustache and it takes on a persona of its own. Even down here in Southern Oregon, people still ask me about the Horstache when I am out in the community.
Your first MLS goal. You had scored others as a pro, but your first MLS goal was in 2012 at home against Seattle. When you think back on that play, the moment, what do you recall?
Earlier in the game, Franck Songo'o had delivered a great corner and I was able to get on the end of it and hit the crossbar with that header. I remember thinking to myself that it was pretty easy to get on the end of that corner, and that Seattle's marking was pretty soft. And when it was time for the corner that I scored on, I thought to myself while running up the field that I could get another chance at a clean header and if I did, to get over it and head it down this time. Kris Boyd did a fantastic job of clearing the space and Jack Jewsbury made a great run across my man to slow him down. Franck delivered another perfect ball and the rest is history. Until this day, a lot of people poke fun at my celebration, but the truth is that I had never scored a goal in MLS, and there was so much emotion in that game. Internally, I just exploded and ran towards the Timbers Army, and all I could do was yell at the top of my lungs along with them.
Do you still have your log slab?
Yes, I do. I preserved it and had a friend of mine cut the Timbers logo out of sheet metal and I pressed it into the surface of the log slab.
Of all the games you played in with the Timbers – MLS games, U.S. Open Cup, friendlies – what is perhaps a game or two that stands out, that when you think back, you really enjoyed playing in?
The Cascadia Cup games were always my favorite games to be a part of. There was always so much emotion and passion involved, and there was always a lot on the line in those games. My two favorite games were the Seattle game that I scored in, and the game in Vancouver when we won the Cascadia Cup. If I had to pick a game outside of a rivalry game, it would be the game where we beat LA Galaxy 3-0 at home.
It is a special rivalry week with Seattle this week. Having played in it, how would you describe the Timbers-Sounders rivalry?
The Timbers-Sounders rivalry is a little bit like a dysfunctional family on Jerry Springer. It is full of love, hate and many shocking moments. But seriously, those games are some of the most intense, passionate games that I have ever been a part of as a player. I will always remember when I first arrived in Portland, some fans telling me that we could lose every game during the season, but if we beat Seattle that they would be happy.
Life has brought you back to Oregon. Since retiring from playing, you've been involved in youth development, and you're now working with the Rogue Valley Timbers – a Timbers Alliance club down in Southern Oregon. How have you enjoyed that transition to the teaching/coaching side of the game?
I knew that when I retired I wanted to try and stay involved in the game in one way or another, and I really enjoy working with kids. The joy that kids bring to the game is so pure and genuine and the look on their faces when they accomplish something that they previously couldn't is very rewarding. It allows me to love the game again, after years of it being a job. It also allows me the opportunity to watch these young soccer players develop into young adults that will hopefully go into life and be very successful.