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Timbers teammates together again

Hall, Wallace formed close friendship leading Maryland to NCAA soccer title
by: Christopher Onstott Rodney Wallace, a defensive-minded, young MLS player and ex-Maryland Terrapin, was reunited with his Maryland teammate, Jeremy Hall, in Portland when the Timbers traded for them last November.

When midfielder-defender Jeremy Hall walks into the Portland Timbers locker room, if defender Rodney Wallace is not there yet, Hall is invariably asked where Wallace is. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know where he is,’ ” Hall says. “Like he’s in my back pocket?” The question is not so farfetched, though. “We do everything together,” Hall says. “We don’t live together, but we’re always hanging out. Whether it’s going to the mall, like we did yesterday, getting dinner, watching a movie. Just whatever. It’s cool hanging out with a friend like that.” Hall and Wallace, both 22, have been close since their days at the University of Maryland, where they won a national championship together in 2008. In a sport where continuity on the pitch drastically affects the outcome of a match, Timbers coach John Spencer is happy to have Hall and Wallace carrying over that unity into their everyday lives. “It helps that guys are friendly and know each other,” Spencer says. “We’ve got a very good team spirit.” Wallace is a 5-10, 160-pounder who was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. After scoring 10 goals and notching four assists at Maryland, he was selected No. 6 overall by D.C. United in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. At Maryland, Hall scored 26 goals to go along with 14 assists. The 5-11, 165- pounder was selected No. 11 overall in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by the New York Red Bulls. The Timbers acquired both players in late-November trades. As the two stood together this week doing an interview, there was constant laughter as they went back and forth answering —or perhaps not answering —questions. Funny stories about the other person were off-limits. “Do I have any stories about you?” Wallace asked Hall. “I don’t know if they’re allowed to be told,” Hall said. “OK,” Wallace said. “But we do hold a lot of memories. Jeremy is someone I’ve always looked up to. Honestly, every day it’s something new with this guy. He’s always making jokes, always keeping things in the locker room mellow. It’s always good to be around him. He’s funny, and he should be a little more serious, but it’s good to have someone like that in our locker room.” Hall says that sometimes in the locker room, when Wallace plugs his iPod into the speakers, if someone exchanges it with his own, Wallace will switch it back to his. “Everybody loves him,” Hall says, of Wallace. “Just one of those guys that you need in the locker room to keep things fun and alive. He just jokes around, and the music is always cranked, with Rodney dancing.” While the two were apart during their first MLS seasons, they talked on the phone a couple times a week. “We have a bond together,” Hall says. “We just talked about how we would like to play with each other again.” “We did?” Wallace asks. “And then when I got traded here before the expansion draft,” Hall continues, ignoring Wallace, “Rodney actually texted me and was like, ‘Are you excited about it?,’ and I told him I was. The day of the expansion draft he got traded and he called me to tell me, and I didn’t believe him. “So we’re both really excited to be here.” At the beginning of the season, Wallace was criticized for a slow start. Then came goals in successive matches against the Chicago Fire and his old club, FC Dallas. Hall has had a solid season, playing on the backline or sliding up to midfield. Spencer is happy with their play. Not that the coach is satisfied. “They’ve done well,” Spencer says. “I’m pushing to get more out of them for sure, defensively and offensively. They know they can do better. They haven’t really been pushed to the maximum every game.” As Portland goes into its 8 p.m. Saturday match at Jeld-Wen Field against the Columbus Crew, Hall hopes his friendship with Wallace can add to the cohesiveness of the Timbers so that one day the club can reach the championship heights Maryland did. “To win any kind of championship is pretty awesome,” Hall says. “How close we were off the field translated to our performance on the field. And it’s like that here. A lot of guys are very close in the locker room and off the field, which translates into performances on the field. We can do something special.”