- Jan. 2, 2012
Twelve players have worn the famous no. 10 for the Portland Timbers in their twenty-one seasons of professional soccer. Only one can claim the most famous goal in Second Division history and a stunning scoring rate: Fadi Afash. The Syrian-born forward came to the A-League Portland Timbers in 2002 having won the USL 3rd Division MVP award with the Utah Blitzz in 2001. Though he suffered through an injury that kept him from playing in the Timbers’ first few games in ’02, Afash burst on the scene in June.
One of the most remarkable scoring streaks in team history occurred between Afash’s first goal of 2002, a 68th minute opener at El Paso Patriots on June 1, and a brace against Indiana Blast at PGE Park on July 4. In between over eleven games, Afash poured in ten goals, recording three braces – against Calgary Storm on June 6, Hampton Roads Mariners on June 21 and the Independence Day brace against Indiana – scoring in seven games. The Timbers had lost their first five games of the season before Afash’s streak but won five of the next eleven, with three draws.
After his tear through June and early July, Afash added seven more goals, including a brace in a 3-0 win against Montreal Impact on the last day of the season. His eighteen goals, tied with McKinley Tennyson for best on the team and best in the league, broke the Timbers’ team record for goals in a season – a record that still stands.
As famous as he became for his twenty-two goals in his first two years in Portland, Fadi Afash's 77th minute match-winner against Milwaukee Rampage at PGE Park on August 29, 2004 is his most famous. The back-heel goal, from a Scot Thompson assist, is known as the Sunshine Goal, scored while the Timbers Army sang You Are My Sunshine. In addition to his famous goal, the victory that day gave the Timbers their second league championship.
Though injuries limited Afash to just twenty-one games over his final two years in Portland, he finished his career as a Timber in a fitting way. Coming on as an 85th minute substitute for Dan Antoniuk in a scoreless game against Charleston Battery, Afash scored the match-winner in the 89th minute on May 12, 2005. The goal was his only tally in what was his final season with the Timbers.
With twenty-eight goals in sixty-four games with the Portland Timbers, Fadi Afash is the sixth leading goal scorer in club history. His goals per game average is second only to Tennyson and better than the likes of Byron Alvarez, Dale Mitchell, Clyde Best and John Bain, each of whom scored at least thirty goals with the Timbers.
Though he appeared in parts of just four seasons, Fadi Afash’s no. 10 is worthy of inclusion among the team’s all-time greats.