- Jan. 9, 2012
In just two seasons with the A-League Portland Timbers, McKinley Tennyson left his mark as one of the great goal scorers in club history. Though his wearing of the no. 9 shirt was cut short by injury, Tennyson was as impressive an offensive player as any Timbers player in any era.
After a stellar collegiate career at UCLA, where he was a teammate of future Timbers defender Scot Thompson, Tennyson was drafted by Columbus Crew and traded to the Los Angeles Galaxy. After a brief spell with Swedish club GIF Sundsvall, the 6’2” forward signed with the Portland Timbers ahead of the 2002 season.
Tennyson scored the Timbers’ first goal of 2002, a penalty in a 4-1 away loss to Seattle Sounders on May 5. Though he did not score again until July, the young forward assisted on Fadi Afash’s match-winner against Seattle on June 23 at PGE Park. Finally, on July 4, Tennyson exploded into a scoring binge that helped the Timbers qualify for the playoffs and set the single season scoring record.
In eleven games from July 4-August 25, Tennyson scored seventeen goals. He recorded a brace in six games before blasting four goals against El Paso Patriots on August 13. Tennyson found the net the final time in 2002 with a 97th minute match-winner against Minnesota Thunder on August 25, having previously assisted on Scott Benedetti’s 87th minute equalizer.
After an amazing 2002 season with the Timbers, Tennyson rejoined the Galaxy, debuting late in a playoff quarterfinal match against the Kansas City Wizards. Though he played just five minutes, Tennyson scored a 93rd minute goal, putting the finishing touches on the Galaxy’s 5-2 triumph. Through the offseason, the 22-year old negotiated for a full-time move to Los Angeles, though the club and player ultimately could not come to an agreement and Tennyson re-signed with the Timbers for 2003.
Though his production fell from the heights of 2002, Tennyson again managed double-digit goals, recording eleven, just one shy of Byron Alvarez’s dozen. As was the case in ’02, goals in pairs and noteworthy goals were a staple. A May 14 double in a 4-1 win against Calgary Storm got his scoring started while a brace against Milwaukee Wave United on July 13 helped the Timbers to a 4-3 win. Tennyson scored a 95th minute golden goal to defeat Vancouver Whitecaps at PGE Park on June 12 and he closed the season with the opener in a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field.
Yet that goal on August 7 in Seattle was the last for Tennyson, not just with the Timbers but as a professional soccer player. Hip surgery followed, and despite signing a new two-year contract to stay with the Timbers through the 2005 season, Tennyson was unable to rehabilitate or recover. At just 23 and already with 29 goals to his name, the forward was forced to retire.
Those 29 goals make McKinley Tennyson the fifth all-time leading scorer in Timbers history and his nine assists rank fifth in the Timbers’ second division era. All while playing just 52 games in two season. Several famous Timbers have worn the no. 9 shirt, but none so consistently productive as McKinley Tennyson.