By JOSE ROMERO
PORTLAND, Ore. – Kris Boyd came to Oregon with big-time credentials, chief among them being his status as the all-time leading goal scorer in Scottish Premier League history.
Signed as a Designated Player, Boyd figured to be an upgrade at target forward for the second-year Portland Timbers, who parted ways with Kenny Cooper in a trade in January after Cooper couldn’t live up to his high-scoring history as a charter member of the Timbers’ MLS side.
Things haven’t gone as planned, not for Boyd and not for the Timbers. Not yet anyway. Portland re-enters league play with a 3-5-4 mark, good for seventh place in the Western Conference. Boyd leads the team in scoring but has just four goals. And Cooper? Eleven goals, one of the top totals in MLS.
Boyd found the net against the Vancouver Whitecaps on May 26 at Jeld-Wen Field, his first goal since an April 7 home loss to Chivas USA, and he is hoping that has helped him regain his scoring touch.
“It’s good to get on the score sheet," said Boyd." Obviously I’d like to get on the scoresheet as much as I can. But I’ve said on numerous occasions that the team is most important."
While Boyd may be focusing on the team's results rather than his goal total, Timbers coach John Spencer said the Timbers must keep trying to work the ball to Boyd near the goal if they are to have more success.
“It’s plain and simple: We have one of the best finishers in the British game on our club, and if we don’t get him chances, he’s not going to score goals,” Spencer said. “That’s what he does. He’s a penalty-box player.”
In MLS competition, the Timbers are coming off one of their best performances of the season in a 1-1 draw against Vancouver. They’re undefeated in the past four league matches, though they have only one win and three draws to show during that streak.
Before that, the Timbers lost five of six matches between March 24 and April 28.
“I think it’s always hard when – I mean you look back on last season, obviously I wasn’t here but we had a good first season and it’s usually difficult your second season because the expectation rises and everybody thinks that we’re going to have what we’ve done the first season,” Boyd said. “The second season is the most important. … You need to come back, you need to do it again and that’s when true champions and really good players stand up and be counted."
The Timbers contended for the playoffs until late in the season in 2011 and finished 11-14-9 in their first year in MLS. As of right now, they are six points out of a playoff spot but Boyd remains confident in his team's chances.
“I feel as if now this team is starting to believe that we can win games and maybe took a sore start at the beginning of the season," said the Scottish forward. "But now we’re starting to look like a team that can cause anyone problems on that day.”
Boyd sees the Timbers creating more chances of late and that adds to his optimism, because despite the team and his own personal lack of success so far, Boyd is enjoying his MLS experience.
“There’s obviously a lot of different things from back home (Scotland) but that’s part and parcel of moving to a different culture,” Boyd said. “It’s maybe taken a few weeks longer to adapt but no, I’ve really enjoyed my time and hopefully I’m here for a long time.”