Portland Timbers Sign First Four MLS Players

Picture the atmosphere at Qwest Field for Sounders FC games the past two seasons.

Stuff like this:

Now consider that MLS is adding two teams in the Pacific Northwest next year, in Portland and Vancouver, and that those teams have longstanding, heated rivalries with Sounders FC, dating all the way back to the NASL and continuing through all three franchises’ spells in the A-League/USL/USSF D-2, up to present-day U.S. Open Cup competition.

All three cities have had soccer at one professional level or another since the demise of the NASL, and now, Major League Soccer is installing them, a ready-made triumvirate of genuine rivals, in its Pacific Northwest sector.

Well played, MLS.

Yesterday, the Portland Timbers—who will be coached by former Rangers, Chelsea, Motherwell and Colorado Rapids striker John Spencer—announced their first four MLS signings. They are:

• First-ballot Name Hall of Famer Bright Dike, who was selected 12th overall, by Columbus, in last year’s MLS draft. After being released by the Crew, Dike latched on with Portland in the USSF D-2 league, scoring 10 goals in 23 appearances.

Steve Cronin, a 27-year-old keeper who did stints with San Jose, LA, and DC United in MLS. He was named Goalkeeper of the Year for the 2009 USL season.

• Twenty-seven-year-old midfielder Ryan Pore, a former All-America at the University of Tulsa who led all USSF D-2 scorers with 15 goals this season.

• USSF D-2 attacker Eddie Johnson (not to be confused with the U.S. international at Fulham), who finished second to Pore in the second division’s golden boot race, bagging 14 goals for the Austin Aztex in 2010.

The countdown clock is up at Portland’s website: 22 weeks till showtime.

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