PORTLAND – Caleb Porter saved perhaps his most surprising All-Star selection for last, when on Tuesday the Portland Timbers and MLS All-Star head coach named Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell as a replacement for the injured Kyle Beckerman.
The surprise centers around the fact that Ridgewell only played his first MLS game just under three weeks ago. He was actually moving into his new home in Portland when he got the news.
“I got the news yesterday morning,” Ridgewell told reporters prior to All-Star training at Providence Park. “I’ve just moved into a new house, so me and my old man were putting up curtains for our son and daughter, and I got the phone call that I had been drafted in for the game – I nearly fell off the ladder.”
Ridgewell joined the Timbers on June 25 from England’s West Bromwich Albion, and made his Portland debut on July 18 with a strong showing against the Colorado Rapids. Since All-Stars are usually recognized because of their body of work throughout the first half of the season, it was a somewhat surprising choice.
Porter acknowledged in a statement that Ridgewell’s selection simply came down to logistical issues.
"Under the circumstances in losing a player at this late point in time, I felt it was best to pull in a player that wouldn't disrupt the other clubs and their preparation this week,” Porter said. “Liam will be a quality addition.”
The abrupt nature of the change was evident as Landon Donovan greeted Ridgewell and welcomed him to the squad as he was speaking to reporters. Nonetheless, Ridgewell took it all in stride, and was especially happy to reunite on the field with former England U-21 teammate Bradley Wright-Phillips, now a New York Red Bulls striker and the current MLS Budweiser Golden Boot leader.
“For me, it’s something new and it’s just something that’s maybe a one-off thing and I’m really enjoying it,” Ridgewell said. “Hopefully I can enjoy the next two days and enjoy it a little bit more.”