BEAVERTON, Ore. — Old-home week starts Friday for the Portland Timbers.
The team is scheduled to fly to Houston for a Sunday night game that will be a homecoming for head coach John Spencer and the two newest Timbers players, Mike Chabala and Lovel Palmer.
From there, it’s on to a Wednesday game at Kansas City, the place where Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury plied his trade for eight seasons before the Timbers acquired him to be a leader in Portland’s first Major League Soccer season.
After Thursday’s practice at the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, each said the emotions of their homecoming won’t factor in the play on the field.
At least not in a negative way.
“Regardless that I’ve made great friends on the other side of the field, they’re my competition and they’re standing in the way of our team getting what we need out of the night, so it won’t make any difference once that whistle blows,” Chabala said.
A defender who played his college soccer at the University of Washington, Chabala came to Portland along with Palmer on July 21 in a trade that sent Adam Moffat from Portland to Houston. Palmer has played the complete 90 minutes in all four league matches since the trade, both at right back and in midfield. Chabala has played all of the last three MLS matches after seeing the field in only seven games this season for Houston.
Spencer said Palmer and Chabala will be “fired up to prove that they shouldn’t have been traded.”
The same will be true of Moffat, who has worked his way into the Houston lineup as a holding midfielder after limited opportunities to play for Portland. He has played in three matches with the Dynamo, starting the last two.
“He’ll be looking to prove us wrong, that we should have kept him and not traded him,” Spencer said. “So, it’s going to be an interesting game.”
It will be strange, too, for the Portland head coach to be on the opposing bench after five seasons in Houston as an assistant coach for good friend Dominic Kinnear. Spencer insists the homecoming won’t be a distraction.
“It’ll be nice to go get three points (a win), and then afterwards socialize with friends and family,” Spencer said.
Jewsbury has missed the last two matches with a hamstring injury. He participated in part of Thursday’s practice and said he hopes to play on Sunday in Houston. But the date in Kansas City has been circled on his calendar since the February day he was traded to Portland after eight seasons with KC.
“It’ll be good to see friends and family that I haven’t seen in quite a little time, and also to see the (new) stadium,” Jewsbury said.
Kansas City played in Arrowhead Stadium, as well as at several smaller stadiums, during Jewsbury’s eight seasons with the club. The new soccer-specific Livestrong Sporting Park opened in May. Seeing the new state-of-the-art facility he said will be both emotional and enjoyable.
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