PORTLAND, Ore. — Forgive Portland Timbers midfielder and team captain Jack Jewsbury if he wasn’t exactly ecstatic when he found out he would be his club's first MLS All-Star.
His reaction coincided with his season's low point: a 3-2 defeat at home against bitter rivals Seattle. Ironically, this year's All-Star First XI was announced during halftime of the Sunday match, which was nationally televised on ESPN.
“The day of the Seattle game it was hard to even talk about it, really, because my mind was so fresh from the result,” Jewsbury said. “But it has sunk in the last few days.”
In the days since, as Portland refocus toward their Saturday road match against Chicago, Jewsbury said he has been able to appreciate what it means to the city and its beloved MLS expansion club.
“It’s an honor to be named, to be included in the group of guys who were named in the First XI,” he said. “It’s an honor to be the first Timbers player [to be named an All-Star]. I just appreciate everyone’s support getting out there and voting.”
When he takes to the pitch at New York’s Red Bull Arena for the game against famed EPL club Manchester United on July 27, Jewsbury’s long goal to become one of MLS’ top players will have been realized.
He played seven years with Sporting Kansas City but saw his role with the team decrease last season. After an offseason meeting with the Sporting front office regarding his future there, Jewsbury was sent to Portland for cash considerations on March 1.
“It’s one of those things where it’s definitely helped me coming here,” Jewsbury said. “To be quite honest, I don’t think this would have been possible in Kansas City. I’m not sure how big a role I would have played there. And coming here and having the confidence of the coaches and the staff and being one of the most experienced veteran guys, it’s definitely helped in this point of my career.”
The trade certainly helped the Timbers enjoy a quick start to the season, winning their first five home games at JELD-WEN Field. Jewsbury is tied for the team lead with four goals and leads with six assists.
Despite the team’s recent struggles — Portland are winless in seven straight matches — head coach John Spencer called it the best trade in MLS this year.
“It’s been well documented,” Spencer said. “He’s done ever so well.”
Jewsbury’s biggest impact, however, can’t be measured with a statistical category. On a team full of young talent, Jewsbury’s leadership abilities have been invaluable.
“I appreciate the trade here,” he said. “Every second of it has been awesome. From the opening home match to the Seattle rivalry, it’s an unbelievable change for me and I’m happy to be here.”