Ryan Pore is hopeful he can be a leader for the expansion Portland Timbers in 2011.
Photo courtesy of Craig Mitchelldyer

Pore takes on new role as leader with Timbers

Join MLSsoccer.com’s Jackie Pickering and Nick Firchau as they travel from LA to Vancouver, checking in on all the West Coast teams, meeting with fans, and stopping into adidas HQ in Portland to pick up the game ball for First Kick on March 15 at Qwest Field.

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BEAVERTON, Ore. – Take a second and imagine the last time you tried to impress your boss. You managed a project or met a deadline, cut some costs for the finance department or came up with the idea that boosted revenue when the company was in the red.

Now imagine you’re Ryan Pore and you’ve got a year to impress your boss, or you’re gone. The company’s going through an overhaul and the big wigs are bringing in some new, more expensive talent, and you are entirely expendable.

That’s basically how the soft-spoken Portland Timbers forward spent 2010. As the team inched towards its inaugural season in Major League Soccer, there were newfound expectations looming and an inevitable new, higher threshold for talent.

“It was a tough year because people were saying we were on this year-long tryout to make the MLS team,” Pore said on Thursday. “It was tough for a lot guys. You want to do well for yourself, but ultimately it was about the team, the city, the franchise.

“I feel very fortunate to still be part of the team,” Pore added, “but I miss the guys who didn’t get the chance.”

Pore was one of only four players from the 2010 squad who made the cut in October, when the Timbers introduced the first players on the new MLS roster. The team has since parted ways with goalkeeper Steve Cronin (shipped to D.C. United for veteran netminder Troy Perkins) and lost Bright Dike for much of the season to an Achilles injury last month.

That leaves Eddie Johnson and Pore from that original group to forge ahead this season, but nothing’s guaranteed. Pore, for one, is fighting for his spot in an offensive group that has since added veteran striker Kenny Cooper, proven Colombian forward Jorge Perlaza and Darlington Nagbe, the Hermann Trophy Winner last year and easily the best offensive college product in January’s MLS SuperDraft.

Pore, however, is no slouch. He spent four years with the Kansas City Wizards from 2005 to '08, appearing in 58 regular-season games and three during the club’s charge to the 2007 Western Conference Championship.

[inline_node:330291]He was cut by KC after the 2008 season and landed in Portland soon after, and eventually led D-2 in scoring with 15 goals in 29 games last year. Those numbers were good enough to impress Timbers technical director Gavin Wilkinson, who spent last year trying to solve which players would stick around the play with the big boys.

“You knew there was definitely an eye watching you,” Pore said. “I knew my game could translate to the MLS level, I just had to prove it one more time.”

That jump, however, took some maturation. Now 27 years old, married and expecting his first child roughly three months after the Timbers’ first MLS game, Pore has some new perspective on his next go-around in the big leagues.

“[Head coach John Spencer] expects me to be a leader here,” he said. “I played sporadically in Kansas City and probably didn’t have the confidence that I have now. Playing games every day with this club, that’s humbled me and made a leader here.”

Pore stepped off the practice field here on Thursday to a buzz of media, and he fielded questions about team expectations for more than 10 minutes in steady drizzle. He did it with a smile and with the comfort of a veteran, and with the knowledge that if there’s a question to be asked about the fate of this Timbers franchise this year, Pore probably has a good answer.

“I’ve been here two years and I know the city and the organization,” he said. “Personally, I love it here. I hope I can stay for a while.”

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