Timbers captain ready to return

Will Johnson healthy as team prepares for Philly

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



BEAVERTON — Will Johnson is sick that, as the Canada team captain, illness kept him out of his team’s last two Gold Cup games.

But the Portland Timbers team captain has recovered and was back at practice on Tuesday, one day after he was officially named as one of the 20 players on the Major League Soccer all-star team that will face Italian club AS Roma on July 31.

“First and foremost I have to thank the club staff and my teammates, because without this great opportunity that I’ve been given, and without great teammates around me, nobody gets selected to the all-star team,” Johnson said.

The fact that Johnson was the only Timber selected surprised coach Caleb Porter, who said his team has three or four deserving players.

Johnson agreed, but said other teams had deserving players left off the list.

“It’s an imperfect process,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if there’s a way to get the 20 best players all together. I wouldn’t want that job to have to pick and choose an all-star team.”

For his part, goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts said he is fine with not getting picked.

“I’ve been playing a lot of games this year. Things are going well right here,” Ricketts said. “I like to keep my focus here.”

The star of the moment in Portland is Andrew Jean-Baptiste, the second-year defender who beat the Galaxy with his stoppage-time goal on Saturday.

Jean-Baptiste said he is brought back to earth when he enters the locker room.

“The season’s not over. Its not like I put in the winning goal in the MLS finals,” he said.

Still, it was a big moment, and an indication of the bright future that may await Jean-Baptiste.

“This is the beginning. He’s a kid,” Johnson said. “If he does the little things right and works hard and keeps his feet on the ground he could have a special career.”

Porter and Johnson both described Jean-Baptiste’s season as up and down.

“I think he’s really turned the corner and looking like a seasoned center back,” Porter said, noting that Baptiste has twice held his own against Robbie Keane .