PORTLAND, Ore. – JELD-WEN Field looks just a little bit different from the days when New England defender Ryan Cochrane used to practice here regularly.
The Portland native spent plenty of time on the old Civic Stadium field during his days as a youth star, but the baseball field is gone and a top-class artificial surface and a new stand highlight the recent upgrades.
All of the alterations provide an extra dash of novelty for Cochrane as he prepares for his first chance to play in front of a large group of family and friends in his hometown on Friday (11 pm; FOX Soccer).
“I'm super happy to be back in Portland,” Cochrane told MLSsoccer.com after the Revs went through a light training session on Thursday afternoon. “I got to see some family. I've got a lot of people coming to the game. I'm excited to play here.”
Cochrane has tracked the development of his hometown club closely even though he plies his trade on the opposite coast. It's a natural tendency, particularly for a native who used to attend Timbers games well before the club made the leap to MLS.
The early returns provide plenty of evidence – though, as several fan bases around the league would suggest, not a conclusive amount – to buttress Cochrane's assertion that his hometown deserves its “Soccer City USA” moniker.
“I'm excited for the area,” Cochrane said. “Anybody who doesn't think that Portland is the best soccer market in the country is a little bit delusional or they haven't been here. I'm excited for the franchise and for the Timbers to finally get a MLS team.”
While Cochrane may revel in the opportunity to play in front of his hometown fans if he earns the nod ahead of Franco Coria on Friday night and see his family for a few days, he also remains focused on the primary task at hand on this work-related trip back to his roots.
“I'm excited to see everybody, but I'm here to get a win,” Cochrane said.