After an injury hampered his senior season at the University of Tulsa, Chris Taylor knew his play in the 2011 MLS Combine would be crucial to realizing his dreams of playing in MLS.
“I knew I didn’t have the best senior year in terms of statistics,” Taylor said. “So I knew I had to go show what I could do [at the Combine]. I had to show people what got me onto the U-20 national team and made me successful there. There were definitely some nerves.”
Despite those nerves, Taylor was a player who saw his stock rise during the Combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
In the first game, the left back flew up and down his side of field and put himself into the attack. Meanwhile, he made sure his opponents didn’t make any progress on his flank. The Portland Timbers rewarded Taylor for his effort on by selecting him 22nd overall in last Thursday’s SuperDraft.
Taylor said he spoke with representatives from several clubs at the Combine, but the Timbers weren’t one of them.
[inline_node:326829]He watched the live SuperDraft telecast on ESPN2, which televised only the first round, at home in Oklahoma. When his name wasn’t called, he switched over to MLSsoccer.com to monitor the second round, but technical difficulties with the live feed prevented him from hearing the next several picks. He missed his own name being called.
“I was on the phone with my dad and brother and they were having trouble seeing it, too,” Taylor said. “Then, all of a sudden, I get a text from my agent: ‘Portland!’”
Less than 15 minutes later, Taylor received a call from Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson and a text message from coach John Spencer.
“To be honest, I’m elated to be going to Portland,” Taylor said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Taylor gives Portland depth at left back, a position that Wilkinson has called one of the most crucial for the way the Timbers expect to play. The team already has Rodney Wallace, who is likely to see time at that position.
At the Combine, Taylor demonstrated his versatility by filling in for a game at center back.
At Tulsa, where Taylor played a defensive midfield position, he missed three games in the middle of the 2010 season as he recovered from a partially torn quadriceps muscle. He attempted to play with the injury, but eventually took three weeks of complete rest to allow his leg to heal.
Taylor returned in time to help the Golden Hurricane reach the second round of the NCAA tournament.
At Portland, Taylor will join a roster that includes another former Tulsa standout, Ryan Pore.
He will also join forces with Hermann Trophy winner Darlington Nagbe of the University of Akron, the No. 2 selection in the SuperDraft.
“[Nagbe] has great feet, strength on the ball and he’s got quickness and awareness in tight spaces. He’s a fantastic player,” Taylor said of his new teammate, whom he played against three times in college. “I’m excited that he’s not going to be running at me anymore.”