PORTLAND, Ore. – When Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson read that the Houston Dynamo were unable to land Scottish Premier League star Kris Boyd last week, it was all hands on deck at JELD-WEN Field.
Paulson has been living and breathing Boyd ever since, making Monday’s announcement that his second-year MLS club was able to sign the prolific striker all the sweeter.
“It’s fun to make an announcement like this,” Paulson told MLSsoccer.com on Monday evening. “It’s been a crazy five days or so since last Wednesday when we realized we could have a shot at this guy. I’ve been living it day in and day out, not to the extent that Gavin [Wilkinson, general manager] has, but obviously I’m thrilled we’re at the place we’re at right now.”
Paulson said Boyd, who has notched a SPL all-time leading 164 goals in 296 appearances, was on the team’s radar as they moved to add a forward in replace of traded Kenny Cooper. Both Paulson and Wilkinson had made it known the club was searching for a No. 9-style forward. But Paulson didn’t believe the Timbers would get a shot at Boyd after Houston was first to file a discovery claim on the Scot.
That all changed last week.
“We had to make a lot of quick decisions,” Paulson said, noting that the end to the European transfer window was closing in.
He said a deal of this magnitude would have otherwise involved a thorough vetting of the player. But with a small window to complete the deal and the threat of losing him to a European club, Paulson said he felt confident in pushing it through without visiting Boyd in person or bringing him to Portland.
That degree of confidence was all thanks to one valuable ace in the hole. Timbers head coach John Spencer’s brother in law, Billy Davies, coached Boyd at Nottingham Forest during the 2010-11 season and had good things to say about the target man.
“The fact that there’s a close relative who can speak extremely knowledgably about having coached this guy was extremely helpful to us and to John and to giving up piece of mind,” Paulson said.
Paulson said he believes the signing only adds to the expectations surrounding the club, which were already heightened by several other key additions including two Colombian stars in defender Hanyer Mosquera and forward José Adolfo Valencia.
“I think we were a playoff team if we didn’t make any changes in the offseason just based on what we did last year with a year of seasoning under our belt,” Paulson said. “And no doubt, I think it heightens expectations. I’m not going beyond that. Obviously, you need to be healthy, and we need things to work out. But I think it raises the bar a bit.”
Paulson said he hopes Boyd can join the Timbers during their training camp in Southern California once his visa and physical are completed, something he’s very much looking forward to.
“I like goals; I’m a simple guy,” Paulson said. “And I think with Kris, this is a guy who scores at an extremely high rate, number one. But number two, the way we play, he’s going to create goals for the guys on the attack on the wings. And we didn’t have that back to the goal, live in the box kind of presence before. And I think that’s what he gives us.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com