Despite some goal-scoring success in the preseason and continual positive words from coach Bob Gansler, Kansas City Wizards forward Ryan Pore has yet to see the field for the first team.
Scoring four goals (including a hat trick against Southwest Missouri State in April) and garnering an assist in preseason and early-season exhibitions at least partially pleased his coach, but Pore's performance on Sunday in the Wizards reserve match against the San Jose Earthquakes reserves has gone far in pleasing both men who have a stake in Pore's development.
"Luckily I was able to score a couple of goals and help my status a little bit," said Pore of his 19th- and 36th-minute strikes that put the Wizards reserves up 2-0. "My job is to go out and perform and hopefully make it up to the first team. I still have a lot of hard work to put in."
When asked of his opinion on Pore's two goals in the 3-3 reserve match draw, Gansler immediately sounded his expectations.
"He knows he should have had three. He's a goal scorer -- that's why we drafted him. I have no doubts in my mind that Ryan will make his way," Gansler said. "But there are a couple of people that he has to outperform, that's his challenge.
"There's a lot of work ahead because there's more to this game than just banging it into the back of the net, and some of our other guys realize that too," continued the Wizards boss. "People ask why is this guy playing or this guy not playing. Sometimes you score a goal, but for the other 89 minutes you were the worst guy on the field."
But now, Pore - the Wizards' second-round selection (16th overall) in this year's SuperDraft who has been on the substitutes bench for four of the five Wizards home matches - has gained another step towards his goal as he will travel with the first team for the first time this season as the Wizards head to Los Angeles to take on Chivas USA on Wednesday.
"I'm very happy to finally be traveling," Pore said. "Hopefully I can keep on making steps and get up to the first team to make my debut."
Said Gansler: "He's going to make this trip. I don't know whether he's been to L.A. - we want him to see that. There are wide open spaces [on The Home Depot Center's pitch], and maybe there will be an appropriate moment to stick him in there and let him run forward because that's what he does."
Besides having a natural penchant for putting balls away, Pore possesses a mature mindset.
"He's got the psychological wherewithal for a goal scorer. He never gets too high, never gets too excited. He just keeps looking for his opportunities," Gansler said. "That kind of makeup you can't coach. He's got a poacher's mentality."
Pore admitted it has been a somewhat rugged transition from college ball where he lit up Tulsa University and the nation to the tune of 22 goals and 11 assists to lead the NCAA in scoring.
"Each level gets faster and faster to play, and it takes time to get used to. But I have confidence that I can do it," he said.
Having Pore on the roster means the Wizards are more likely to maintain what is currently one of the top attacks in the league as the Wizards stand tied with the New England Revolution and FC Dallas at an average of two goals per contest.
If the Wizards struggle offensively Wednesday evening, or if they hold a comfortable advantage, Pore will likely be given an opportunity to increase his preparedness for a long-term contribution to the first team.
"He's a good athlete; he's a good guy at the end of combinations," said Gansler. "He scores goals, that's what he's done all of his life."
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.