PORTLAND, Ore. – Sal Zizzo called his Feb. 16 trade to the Timbers from Chivas USA “a shock,” but said it didn’t take long to bring a positive outlook to the move.
“Once I collected all my thoughts I was excited about it,” Zizzo told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday as the team rode north on a bus to this weekend’s Cascadia Summit. “I have been waiting for an opportunity to start and make significant contributions to a team."
So far, Zizzo has spent more time training with his new team in Arizona than in Portland, but spent a few days this week getting acquainted with the City of Roses.
On Friday and Saturday in Tukwila, Wash., Zizzo and the rest of the Timbers will get acquainted with something else: the excitement generated by the Northwest rivalries involving Seattle, Vancouver and Portland. Friday night’s game against Sounders FC sold out quickly.
“I think we’re all going to get a little taste how it’s going to be for the regular season,” Zizzo said.
The 23-year-old San Diego native began his career in 2007 with Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga. He made eight first-team appearances with the top-flight German club and also played for Hannover 96 II, the club’s reserve team.
He also played for the US Under-18 national team and represented the US at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, helping the team reach the quarterfinals. He earned his first cap for the US senior national team during a friendly against Sweden on Aug. 22, 2007.
Despite beginning his training with one club, he has quickly adapted to his new situation. He will likely be slotted as a right midfielder.
“They want me to be myself and the guy they saw when they brought me here,” Zizzo said. “It’s nice when you know your coach likes your style of play and is encouraging you.”
Zizzo said he’s had a favorable first impression of his new organization.
“I think we’re a very young team, but a team that wants to work hard and be successful,” Zizzo said. “It’s a fast, young, athletic group. And I think teams will see that this year.”
[inline_node:325800]Timbers Army climb the Summit
The Timbers Army has a coordinated effort in place to ferry Portland soccer fans to and from the Starfire Sports Complex on Friday and Saturday just south of Seattle. The supporters group will employ four or five buses and bring about 200 people to Friday evening’s game against Sounders FC.
“Another 300 or so will go up by caravan,” Timbers Army 107ist President Dave Hoyt said. “For the Vancouver game [Saturday], we might be running up one or two buses. Most people are staying up for both games.”
Hoyt and other organizers have been working out deals for travel and lodging, blocking out entire floors of hotels.
“We realize there are still trialists in camp and it might not be a give-it-your-all-to-win atmosphere,” Hoyt said. “But it’s the first time to wear that kit that we’re proud of. We can sing our songs and warm up our pipes and get into that midseason mode.”
Hoyt says knows about 300 Portland fans are planning to travel to Denver for the Timbers’ first MLS game, at the Colorado Rapids, on March 19. Every away game will have a Timbers Army presence, he said.
“I can virtually guarantee a flag, a two-stick, a banner, or something, at every game,” he said.