First MLS Season A Success For Richards
Dec. 5, 2012
SEATTLE - When Brent Richards got signed by the Timbers it was what he wanted and expected. What he didn't expect, however, was to earn any time on the first team and make his MLS debut in 2012.
Richards expected to spend the 2012 season on the reserve team to improve his game and learn the Timbers' system. Instead, he made his MLS debut against the LA Galaxy and David Beckham and was named the "Young Player of the Year" by the organization.
From his home in Camas, Wash., last week, Richards was taking some vacation time before going back to Portland for training.
Playing for the U-23 team in the Timbers organization and having a good career at Washington, Richards knew it could end up being an option for him to play for the team he grew up cheering for.
"I was hoping I'd have the option to play there as a home-grown player but I didn't know for sure until my career at the UW ended. I always wanted to play for my `home town' team and it's so special to play for them," Richards said.
After his senior year ended in Nov. 2011 with the Huskies not earning an NCAA Tournament berth as they expected, Richards finished his degree at Washington and continued to train in Montlake after signing with the Timbers on Jan. 4, 2012. He joined the team to begin official training in Portland at the end of the month.
His hard work paid off and he played in six games on the first team, made two starts, logged 201 minutes and took five shots. He was on the bench and eligible to sub in throughout the season in multiple games beginning with the March 12 match vs. Philadelphia.
"I didn't expect any first team time," Richards said. "The coaches told me we will see how it goes. I was surprised to get a little bit of time and make some progress. It was a little bit of reward for me."
Richards made his MLS debut against the LA Galaxy on July 14. He started the second half and played the final 45 minutes against David Beckham in the 5-3 loss. He earned starts on July 28 and Aug. 5 against Chivas USA and Dallas, helping to earn the tie vs. Dallas at home.
"I'd been on the bench several times, itching to get my debut," said Richards. "There were a couple of games they wanted to put me in but things prevented that such as injuries.
"It was surreal. It was a tough situation: we were three goals down. It was a tough place to come in but it was great to be out there. It was great to get the first game out of my way and under my belt and helped me a lot."
Richards hopes to enjoy his off-season but stay in shape so he is ready when the pre-season rolls around. His main goal for 2013 is to earn a starting spot on the first team.
"I was hoping to get a goal and assist on the first team last year and it didn't happen but I got close a few times," Richards added. "I got some good advice from a lot of players on the team, good things and bad things and know what I need to work on."
Although the Timbers didn't have the year they wanted, with new coach Caleb Porter in town there is a new energy and buzz around the team.
Porter comes from the collegiate world having coached Akron from 2006 until the Zips fell in the NCAA Second Round on penalty kicks to Creighton in the Sweet 16.
On the new coach, Richards said the team was excited about the future. "I haven't met him yet but I've heard good things. He is one of the hardest working coaches. Akron played a type of soccer that certain teams in Europe play and I'm excited to learn things from him."