BY MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore.- It has been 390 minutes since the Timbers have conceded a goal in front of the home fans and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is one of the major reasons why Portland is enjoying its best run of form since joining MLS in 2011.
The Jamaican International arrived in Portland last August in exchange for fan favorite Troy Perkins. Now 20 games into his Portland tenure, Ricketts is having his best stretch since his MLS All-Star season in 2010.
“I wouldn’t trade him for any goalkeeper in the league and there’s a lot of great goalkeepers,” head coach Caleb Porter said. “Here he is in the twilight of his career and he’s having a career year”
Ricketts distribution has led to many counterattacks this season, but none as important as the one he had on Sunday. His quick outlet pass after a save led to the club’s first goal in the 3-0 victory over Chivas USA.
While his distribution gives a bonus to the attacking play of Portland, it’s also his attitude that provides the Timbers with an extra edge in front of the net.
“He’s so confident,” Porter said. “It’s great to have a guy behind you who just exudes composure and gives a presence.”
Centerback Futty Danso, who has started the last six games at centerback, is happy to have Ricketts behind him.
“Playing in front of Donovan is like having another defender behind you,” the Gambian International said. “Confidence is always good when you have someone like that playing behind you.”
For Ricketts, the most important thing is having a good relationship with the four defenders directly in front of him.
“Once I trust my back four and my back four trusts me, I think everything is ok,” Ricketts said. “I try to help them out as much as I can with communication and the same thing happens with them. They try to limit my activities.”
While Ricketts is known for his communication on the pitch, Porter has noticed something else with the six-foot-four-inch goalkeeper.
“He’s played so many years, but he’s just happy. You see him smiling every day. I think it’s revived the end of his career,” Porter said. “I hope he has a couple more years and I think he does.”
For the last two matches, the Timbers have not had a true centerback listed as a substitute. But a reinforcement will arrive Thursday in training with the addition of Pa Modou Kah.
Kah, who was signed by the club on May 3, had been in process of securing his paperwork to become eligible for Portland. The Gambian-born defender will provide much-needed depth to a group that has already seen two centerbacks (Mikael Silvestre and David Horst) lost due to injury . He will make his debut at practice on Thursday and is expected to be ready for Saturday’s match at Vancouver.
MOSQUERA, TIMBERS OFFICIALLY PART WAYS
Hanyer Mosquera, who has not been training with the club since mid-March, had his contract terminated officially by the club Wednesday. Despite starting 26 games in 2012, Mosquera wanted to return home to his native Colombia, according to general manager Gavin Wilkinson. Prior to coming to the Timbers, Mosquera was a member of Bogota’s La Equidad.
Hope he maintains that form in world cup qualifying.