PORTLAND, Ore. — Up next for the Portland Timbers is a trip to Los Angeles to face Chivas USA on Saturday, and that turns the spotlight in the direction of Sal Zizzo.
For the third week in a row, the Timbers are taking on a team that helped fill out their roster.
Two weeks ago, Eric Brunner delighted in his game-winner against his former Columbus Crew teammates. On Sunday, goalkeeper Troy Perkins and defender Rodney Wallace tried, without success, to defeat D.C. United.
When the subject comes up for Zizzo, he is quick to point out a difference.
“I guess it’s similar to those guys, but they were with those clubs two or three years,” he said. “I was only [with Chivas] at the end of last season.”
It’s a fair point. Zizzo has already logged more MLS minutes as a Timber (286) than he did with Chivas USA (254). This past Sunday, the 24-year-old started and played the full 90 in the 3-2 loss to DC. While his speed on the wing has been a spark for the Timbers offense, the winger has yet to score.
“I expect a lot out of myself,” he said. “I want goals and assists. I just need to keep working hard. I know, personally, I can bring more to the table. It’s going to come soon.”
Zizzo would love nothing more than to break through against Chivas USA. It’s also close enough to San Diego, his hometown, so that his parents, brother and the rest of his friends and family will be in attendance.
“I’ve got friends on [Chivas], so of course you want to beat them,” he said. “You want to show them they made a mistake by trading you.”
Zizzo came to Portland on Feb. 16 in exchange for allocation money, a move that caught him by surprise.
“It was definitely out of left field,” he said. “They called me in, gave the news and that was it. I was excited to come [to Portland] because I’d heard good things. Now, I’m happy. Never been better.”
The midfielder missed a chance to play in the US Open play-in match against Chivas USA on March 29 at the University of Portland because he was out with a shoulder injury.
In the three-and-a-half months since he moved to Portland, Zizzo has adapted well to his new surroundings, even tapping into the city’s bicycle commuting culture. He bought a bike and rides it each morning from his home to JELD-WEN Field.
“I’m only five minutes from the stadium,” he said. “I can get there faster [on a bike] and don’t have to worry about one-ways or parking.”