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Timbers just a fan in offseason

Home means Patriot games, knee surgery for Chris Bagley
by: L.E. BASKOW, Timber forward and Boston native Chris Bagley is getting his fill of the other football watching the Patriots’ path to the Super Bowl.

It's his offseason, but Portland Timber forward Chris Bagley has been going to a lot of games lately. New England Patriot games.

Bagley, a Boston native with the accent to prove it, has been to every Patriot home game since he got home in November. He also saw New England rally to beat New York at Giants Stadium on Dec. 29, and he's picking the Pats to win the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 at Glendale, Ariz.

'The Giants have a lot of momentum and confidence, but at the end of the day, I think it's just going to come down to the fact the Pats have been there before,' he says.

Bagley says the Patriots approach football the way Portland coach Gavin Wilkinson wants the Timbers to take their soccer. 'Just throw your boots on and play, that's the attitude Gavin wants us to have,' he says.

The 27-year-old Bagley put some of his other New England ties to good use. He couldn't finish last season because of a nagging injury that eventually was diagnosed as a sports hernia.

The injury requires surgery, and Bagley just received -finally -insurance coverage. He'll go under the knife Feb. 5. He expects to be good enough to play in six weeks, just in time for him to get ready for the Timbers' training camp in mid-March.

'It's a really confusing injury. Only a few doctors deal with it frequently,' he says. 'There's one in Boston and one in Munich, and not a lot more. Three guys who were with the Timbers last year (Shaun Higgins, Kevin Meissner and Matt Taylor) had it done in Germany. I used to play for the New England Revolution (of Major League Soccer), and one of their specialists has done the surgery.' So Bagley won't have to leave home for the procedure or the rehab.

The Timbers recently signed two players with whom Bagley is familiar -former MLS forward Chris Brown from Jesuit High and the University of Portland, and Tim Karalexis, a defender.

In 2003, Brown broke a foot while playing for New England. The mishap opened up a roster spot for a new signee - Bagley.

Bagley knows Karalexis a lot better.

'We played soccer together from age 9 through college,' says Bagley, who attended Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. 'We went to different high schools but played on the same club team. We were roommates all four years in college. In 2002, we both signed our first pro contract with the Wilmington (Del.) Hammerheads.

'We're going to live together in Portland. He wants me to make the cross-country drive out there with him, but I told him, 'No way, I did that last year.' '

Bagley says both additions will be a boon to the Timbers.

'Chris is real smart with the ball,' he says. 'He's got a good first touch and makes great runs into the box, finding gaps between defenders. He's got a quick first two or three steps and can create space to get a shot off.

'Tim will fit in fine on defense. He's good at winning head balls, and he probably has the longest throw-in in our league, if not the country. He can get it into the box, if not the back post, from 30 yards. Any throw-in from 20 yards or less is going to be like a corner kick.

'If we had a weakness last year, it was getting the ball into the box. So he's really going to help us there.'