MLS Timbers sign first four players for 2011


The expansion Portland Timbers have signed the first four players in the club's history, including a trio of top scorers from the USSF Division 2.

Portland announced the signing of forward Bright Dike and midfielder Ryan Pore, as well as goalkeeper Steve Cronin, from the USSF D-2 Portland Timbers, while also signing English forward Eddie Johnson away from the Austin Aztex (Portland traded for Johnson's rights at mid-season and loaned him out to Austin, so the Timbers already had his rights).

Dike was a 2010 MLS first-round pick for the Columbus Crew before being waived and picked up by the Timbers. He scored 10 goals for the USSF D-2 Timbers, second to Pore's 15 goals. A former member of the Kansas City Wizards, Pore finished as the leading scorer in the USSF-Division 2. Johnson scored 14 goals for the Aztecs, good for second in the league.

Cronin will return to MLS after having spent five seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He remained one of the top goalkeepers in USSF D-2 this season after being named goalkeeper of the year in 2009.

What do you think of these signings? Impressed with the collection of forwards Portland has put together? Think Cronin can be one of the better goalkeepers in MLS?

Share your thoughts below.

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61 Responses to MLS Timbers sign first four players for 2011

  1. Kevin_amold says:

    Bright Dike is an outstanding name.

  2. otergod says:

    so there is an English forward playing in the US named Eddie Johnson and there is an American forward playing in England named Eddie Johnson? Weird

    Glad to see Dike get signed. Im guessing by the large number of forward signings that Nimo will not be signed?

  3. ERic says:

    Just remember to pronounce it right;)

  4. D5ve says:

    Nimo may still be GA-protected. Most Portland fans like him, but probably not enough to give up assets/draft picks to get him. He doesn’t seem to have a future at RSL. Will they waive him?

  5. Seth says:

    Sad to see Eddie Johnson go, but it’s a great oppurtunity for him. Hope he does really well.

  6. Marcus says:

    Well, Nimo is on loan from RSL, so they’d have to buy him from them, instead of just being able to sign him.

  7. ERic says:

    Guess I have a new MLS team to be a fan of. Good luck to Eddie next season.

  8. LittleMaradona says:

    Agreed. Hopefully the Aztexs can reload.

  9. Aljarov says:

    Dike was not waived, he’s on the CPL, thus he was never under contract (else he would have been a free agent, which he shouldn’t be).

    How did the Timbers sign him, or did they compensate Columbus for a player on the CPL? Are there any Arnoux implications in this deal too?

  10. Lucy says:

    Ryan Pore played in MLS before. There is a reason why he has played for a USL team the past couple of years. I would be surprised if he is as successful in MLS next year as he was this year.

  11. steve says:

    I’m sure there are no plawyer who went from D2 to MLS and succeed. Wait…Letoux is one. I’m sure there are others.

  12. Myles B says:

    I’d say the same for all of these guys. They’re lunchbox players, but that’s fine.

  13. ivanov says:

    Rule of Soccer Journalism #344:
    The phrases “Steve Cronin” and “one of the better goalkeepers in the MLS” should ALWAYS be joined by some sort of negative.

  14. Kevin_Amold says:

    “Steve Cronin is not expected to lose his classification as one of the better goalkeepers in MLS.”

  15. g-loff says:

    Osvaldo Alonso from Seattle is another one.

  16. John says:

    The Crew released him, he signed a one-year minor league deal with the Timbers in April, he delivered, so they extended the contract.

  17. Aljarov says:

    THe Crew never signed him, thus he should still be a protected Draft pick and thus be compensated. I know he was in D2 all year. According to MLS he is still protected.

    I guess it’s possible this process is ranked above the draft pick rights/CPL, but what would stop MTL, for example, going out and offering contracts to every 1st round pick and then graduating them next year under this rule?

    Also, given MLS’s objection to the Caps signing Arnoux (who isn’t even on any team’s CPL) and calling it circumventing the draft and allocation processes, hwo does this Dike signing affect that?

    We all know MLS makes stuff up as it goes along, but there are some big questions here.

    (SBI-Not really Al. It’s pretty clear. Dike was not signed or offered a deal by Columbus. If Montreal wants to sign any first-round picks who happen to be waived they are more than welcome to, but they aren’t going to be able to try and outbid MLS teams for draft picks (nevermind the fact that most highly-rated draft picks are signed BEFORE the draft). Dike is an abherration because he never should have been drafted in the first round. He was a mistake pick and Columbus quickly dumped him. That he was still on some college protected list is a questionable connection as it is. In no way is that comparable to a highly-rated college star skipping the MLS draft, then going to Europe for a year, then returning to sign with an expansion MLS team outside any normal mechanism. Just isn’t.)

  18. says:

    Look, they signed three guys who scored consistently in D2. If one of those guys finds a way to do that in MLS then they’ve done well. Good moves even if they don’t pan out. At least they’re trying. Expansion and MLS Drafts still to come.

  19. John says:

    Source or it didn’t happen.

  20. Giggsy says:

    Ives: Maybe you could find out and clear up a couple of things for us. First: i heard a rumour that Johnson was actually signed to Portland D2 earlier in the year and loaned back to Austin and this is why he was able to be signed today as “one of the players on Portland’s D2 roster”. any truth to this? Second: could you clear up the Dike situation. was he drafted and not signed by Columbus and does that mean they still retain his draft rights (as would be the case in any sport like the NBA Timberwolves with Rubio)? if so how was Portland able to sign him? or did Columbus sign him and waive him in the preseason thus making his MLS rights free game?

    nobody else seems to be doing any actual reporting on this just spewing out the press release of which 4 players were signed but not how and by what MLS rules which is almost more important to my mind.

    and as far as the D2/MLS thing goes. i can see a player like Le Toux or Gjertsen or Alonso who had never gotten a shot in MLS finally getting one and succeeding but i really don’t think that having failed in MLS and been dumped into D2 and coming back with an expansion team is really the same thing. i’d suspect that you are not very likely to get any more out of the former MLS players than what got them dumped out of MLS in the first place.

  21. Hood Rich says:

    DeRosario is another.

  22. John says:

    Dike got cut from the Crew and signed with Portland. Othaniel Yanez beat him out for the final roster spot. Don’t know why this is so hard.

  23. Benny Dargle says:

    I think there is always a chance that a player matures and comes back better than when they were released. This is particular true for a goalkeeper where the peak age is actually much later than for a field player. Cronin played some of his MLS seasons as a backup and was thrust into the starting lineup with a very poor Galaxy defense. He was not going to be as good as Hartman or Rickets even with a great defense, but it is certainly conceivable that he will be better with a few years of playing time under his belt and not having Abel Xavier in front of him (or a forward in front of him while Xavier futilely chases the forward toward goal).

  24. Charles says:

    LeToux was hardly the biggest hit from the Sounders even.

    Marcus Hahnemann did ok for one all the way down to Nyassi who isn’t doing badly.

  25. Charles says:

    Hahnemann = lunchbox type ?

  26. JoeW says:

    Actually, Steven Cronin has been outstanding in USL for two seasons now. When the Timber’s season ended last year, he was loaned to DC United and he was excellent. Frankly, if he wasn’t under contract and determined to stay on the West Coast (it’s a relationship thing), DC United would have signed him and never gone after Perkins. I think Cronin is an excellent signing.

    The others? We’ll see. Le Toux was a star in USL. DeRosario hasn’t turned out too shabby. Alonso is class. Most USL players are like MLS players except there a step slower, a bit more limited, less multi-dimensional…OR…they never found the right system for them. Le Toux is a classic example of this.

    Last thought–I think part of the reason Seattle did well (many reasons, but this is part of one) is that b/c of their USL signings/roster they didn’t have to use the expansion draft to acquire starters. They could draft guys who might not be coming to MLS (Jaqua, Parkers) as flyers, they could draft young guys who you might not want to start but had athleticism and the potential to get better.

  27. Quiet Bloke with Time says:

    Only in MLS would a first-round draft pick be waived before he plays a game…

    (SBI-I’m pretty sure you can find examples of that in the NFL (any number of QBs), NBA (moreso when they allowed high school players) and MLB (happens ALL the time).)

  28. Idaho Brian says:

    I’m not positive, but I think Nimo’s GA status may expire after this season. If that is the case, I can’t see RSL protecting him in the expansion draft. I could easily see Nimo ending up with the Timbers or Whitecaps through the draft…

  29. otergod says:

    & D5ve : Point taken. My guess is that he’d be left unprotected by RSL, which means if Portland does like him, they could ultimately pick him up without having to give up anything. Safe pick too, as he’s been training and playing with the club for over a year (this is his 2nd year on loan right?).

    Or is he still GA protected?? is that status 3 yrs or 2?? If he’s GA protected, then he wont be available.

  30. Idaho Brian says:

    Every team needs “lunchbox” type players to succeed. In my opinion, these types of signings and other off-season aquisitions will be more important than the expansion draft.

  31. otergod says:

    While he played 1 season with the galaxy, Ching went to Sounders and played a couple seasons then found success in MLS

  32. otergod says:

    only in MLS would you have a league with a draft. (ok, thats purely a guess) 😀

  33. Giggsy says:

    i said “not very likely to get any more out of them” not that it was impossible. anything is possible i just wouldn’t hold my breath on those guys is all. but you are right i’d say that Cronin has the best shot given the nature of his position and that GKs improve with experience and playing time and the level of player they are playing against isn’t as significant a factor (still matters some sure). i mean a shot on goal is a shot on goal afterall and saving it is saving it. playing at a lower level with worse defenders might actually make playing at that level a better learning experience in some ways. the GK has to learn to do more to compensate for sucky defence. either way your point about Cronin is a good one.

  34. buzz says:

    Or the NBA, or MLB…

  35. A.S. says:

    I’m glad Eddie Johnson is coming back to MLS. He needs the playing time – Fulham/Austin (whatever you call it) isn’t giving it to him.

    Wait, what?

  36. metasyntactic variable says:

    If Vancouver has first pick in the USSF D-2 Priority Ranking, is there any indication they chose not to use it on Eddie Johnson? Vancouver’s in desperate need of scoring. Unless they have other strikers in their sights?

    “Eddie Johnson, a 25-year-old English striker who was with the Austin Aztex in 2010, has never played for the Timbers but was on Spencer’s wish-list for several years now.”

  37. Giggsy says:

    i think the more interesting question is on Johnson. as far as i understood the expansion rules the two teams were allowed to freely sign any of their D2 players (up to a certain number?) without having to acquire them via the usual D2 allocation order. but both teams were given places in the D2 allocation order which i have to assume means they must follow the usual rules for any D2 player outside their own roster.

    signing Johnson from Austin to Timbers D2 after the D2 season has finished and then turning right around and claiming him as a Timbers D2 player they are taking to Timbers MLS seems like a circumvention of the spirit of those rules if not the letter. i mean they could have just scoured D2, signed any and all of the best players to Timbers D2 after the season (for nothing since most of the D2 contracts are season to season) and then claimed they were all Timbers D2 players they could bring to Timbers MLS. that would certainly be blatant abuse of the process. is it not an abuse because they only did it once?

    or maybe the Timbers had to use their spot in the D2 allocation order to do this move. which would be an important piece of information to know.

    like i said since MLS seems to hate having clearly defined and published rules as fans we never know when teams are or are not following them or are or are not trying to skirt/abuse them.

  38. Dinho says:

    only in MLS would you have a professional soccer league with a draft….

    (SBI-And Mexico.)

  39. giogio says:

    lol timbers sign 4 amateurs. awesome.

  40. metasyntactic variable says:

    Yes, Portland chose first pick in the Expansion Draft and the Designated Player Ranking over the USSF D-2 Priority Ranking, if Johnson was on their “wish-list” they chosen the USSF D-2 Priority Ranking.

  41. otergod says:

    SBI- how does the mexico draft work out?? i was unaware, and currently too lazy to look it up

  42. metasyntactic variable says:

    edit: ‘could have chosen’

    in reply to Giggsy: I’d disagree, unless there’s information we’re not privy to it’s a circumvention of the letter of those rules.

  43. John says:

    The Timbers actually purchased Johnson from the Aztex over the summer transfer window unannounced and then loaned him back to the Aztex until the season is over.

    So technically he’s been a Timber for a couple months.

  44. Giggsy says:

    well that would make more sense within the rules. i’d definitely have less of a problem with it if this is the case. but as of yet i have not seen a credible (no offence to you meant of course) media source quote anybody with the Timbers officially stating this.

  45. Myles B says:

    Totally agree with you there!

  46. John says:

    link to

    Second to last graf should do it for ya.

  47. D5ve says:

    Eddie Johnson was signed in the last transfer window and loaned back to Austin to finish the season. Priority ranking does not apply.

  48. metasyntactic variable says:

    Do you have an announcement from time of the signing? And as stated before if the league had a problem with the Whitecaps signing Arnoux retroactively, perhaps they will with this circumvention of the spirit of the draft.

  49. metasyntactic variable says:

    College Protected List

  50. metasyntactic variable says:

    “A player who was drafted by a particular team through the SuperDraft or Supplemental Draft and did not sign with the League, is placed on that team’s “College Protected List” until the second December 31 immediately following the draft in question, after which the team loses the rights to the player.”

    According to this whether a player is signed or not Dike should still be on the Crew CPL until Dec 31, 2011.

    (SBI-The Crew waived its rights to Dike before Dike signed with Portland. From what I’m told, Portland wouldn’t sign him without that being cleared. What led Columbus to waive those rights is unclear (maybe they didn’t want to stand in the way of the kid’s career since they didn’t want him, or maybe MLS applied pressure). Either way, the Crew gave up its rights to him, clearing the way for Dike to go to Portland.)

  51. DC Josh says:

    As evidenced by Le Toux, there are MLS All stars in the 2nd division. Expansion is great for US soccer. I can’t wait for next season. Who will be the next Le Toux?

  52. zaggy says:

    where is it stated you have to publicly list all of your signings? if they filed all the proper paperwork with USSF, then it really doesn’t matter if he played with the team/was announced as part of the team, as long as legally he was part of the team. your looking for something that doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) exist.

  53. John says:

    No, the transfer wasn’t public until this morning. Hard to see what the league would do as both teams bought players with the intent to move them up, which is exactly what happened here.

  54. jonk says:

    Yeah, it was a pretty shrewd bit of business by Portland since they had just recently found out they wouldn’t have top discovery priority for D-2.

  55. jonk says:

    Amateur: A person who engages in an art, science, study, or athletic activity as a pastime rather than as a profession.

    I believe these guys were getting paid in D-2.

  56. Kejsare says:


  57. Jeremy says:

    Let me guess Giogio you are a Sounders fan? I’m pretty sure you have no clue about anything other than your rave green scarf.

  58. Giggsy says:

    if they did it in the summer i think it is brilliant and totally legit. my only problem was if it hadn’t happened until after the D2 season. imho THAT would have been a circumvention of the rules. but they did it mid-season and just kept it quite so i really don’t have an issue with it now. i would have been nice if was properly reported or announced by the club at the very outset tho to avoid any confusion.

  59. derp says:

    I took that as a bit of sarcasm and/or irony coming from kevin amold… I think I remember that episode. His gym teacher had his name spelled wrong and… hey! get that narrator outta my head!

  60. senevada says:

    it’s NOT about SEATTLE.

    jeez lay off the portland threads at least.