PORTLAND, Ore. – Every soccer fan in the Rose City is aware of the expectations laid on one-half of the Portland Timbers forward combination.
Designated Player Kris Boyd will be viewed as a disappointment if the goals don’t come in bunches.
But Boyd’s counterpart, Colombian Jorge Perlaza, expects bigger and better things from himself coming into his second year in MLS.
“I think it’s going to be much better,” said Perlaza, who was third on the team with six goals last year. “I know the other teams. I know the league better. I’m hoping to do better for my team this year and help them out in a better way.”
When the Timbers leading scorer from last year, Kenny Cooper, was traded, Perlaza immediately became the team’s most experienced offensive option up front. Boyd then entered the picture, alleviating some of that pressure.
But Perlaza still feels the need to improve after a season, he said, in which he spent a lot of time just getting acclimated.
“The truth is we feel a lot better,” Perlaza said through a translator. “We’re in sync now with what the coaches want us to do. And I think all these things will help us move forward in this new season and try to accomplish the goals we’ve set up for ourselves.
“Hopefully with that experience we can accomplish our goals, which is make it to the playoffs this year. I’m a lot more comfortable now.”
So far in Portland’s preseason, that narrative has played out. Perlaza has scored two goals and assisted on another.
“I feel like this year he knows the guys more and is more comfortable,” said midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe. “I feel like he’s more aggressive this year.”
And Perlaza said the universal language of goal scoring has already put him on the same page with Boyd, the Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading scorer. In their first start together – against AIK on Sunday in Portland’s preseason finale – Perlaza hit Boyd on a perfectly placed cross for the striker’s first goal in a Timbers jersey.
“Things are going well so far,” Perlaza said of his relationship with Boyd. “He’s a great player, as he demonstrated in his first game here on Sunday. He’s a great scorer. And I think he’s going to contribute a lot to this team. And so far things are going well. We just hope we continue to coordinate with him on the field and do some really good things during the season.”