- Aug. 30, 2010
Portland Timbers signed veteran defender Kevin Goldthwaite on August 25, 2010. Goldthwaite became one of a number of current Timbers defenders (Ian Joy, Stephen Keel, Steve Purdy, Scot Thompson, Quavas Kirk) who previously played in Major League Soccer. What sets the defender apart is a ten-game loan spell with the Timbers in 2005.
During his rookie season in MLS with San Jose Earthquakes (now Houston Dynamo), Goldthwaite was sent on loan to the Timbers late in the 2005 season, only returning to San Jose after the Timbers bowed out of the playoffs. Over the past five seasons, Goldthwaite has featured not only for the Earthquakes and Dynamo but also Toronto FC and Red Bull New York.
Kevin Goldthwaite is the most recent player to return to Portland, though he is certainly not the first. In fact Portland have a long history of players leaving the club for various reasons but ultimately returning.
The original player to leave the Timbers and return more than a year later was Willie Anderson. The former Manchester United and Aston Villa player came to the Timbers on loan from Cardiff City in the spring of 1975. Anderson starred for the ’75 Timbers, led the club with nine assists and was one of the leaders of the team. Cardiff recalled the Liverpudlian winger for the 1975/76 season and even kept him in Wales through the summer of ’76. Only after the 1976/77 season did Anderson return Stateside, in time for the Timbers’ 1977 season. From 1977-82, Anderson featured 160 times for the Timbers and scored 13 goals.
John Bain, the Portland Timbers’ all-time scoring leader, is another example of a player who returned to Portland after his first stint with the club. Bain signed on with Portland in 1978 from Bristol City, a recruitment of new manager Don Megson, who had previously managed at Bristol Rovers. Bain scored 45 goals in 148 Timbers’ matches between 1978-82, only leaving Portland when the club folded. He spent the next seven years in Seattle, Minnesota, Kansas City, St. Louis and Tacoma, mostly playing indoor, before returning to be player/manager of the 1989 version of the Portland Timbers, owned by Art Dixon. Bain played alongside Kasey Keller in ’89, but by 1990 those Timbers were forced out of business once again.
More recently, Byron Alvarez, the prolific Mexican forward, returned to Portland after several seasons away. Alvarez came to the Timbers in 2003 after having played in MLS with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now Red Bull New York). 96 games and 41 goals later, the Timbers’ all-time goal scorer in the USL era left Portland to join Charleston Battery in 2007. But Alvarez would only stay away for a single season, returning to the Timbers in 2008 for nine games, during which he scored his 42nd goal in Portland, a number bettered only by Bain.
Whether Kevin Goldthwaite will have the same kind of impact on the Timbers as his predecessors is unknown. But he has entered into very good company in his return to Portland. Not every player has the option of choosing where he plays, but clearly, given a choice, those who have played in the Rose City before want to return. With an opportunity to impress ahead of the move to Major League Soccer, Portland represents not just a warm reminder of a rookie season but a legitimate chance to plug back into the top-flight with a club well known for its long history.