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Midfielder returns to Timbers' turf

Andrew Gregor brings pro moves, leadership, winning mentality
by: L.E BASKOW, Andrew Gregor takes a practice shot with FC Portland soccer club in Hillsboro this week as he gets ready to tread again on Timber turf.

He's home, and Andrew Gregor doesn't want to leave again.

'I'm content with playing and finishing out my career in Portland,' says Gregor, the former Sunset High and University of Portland soccer standout who recently signed with the Portland Timbers.

Gregor, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Timbers, who open preseason training Monday. If all goes well in his first full season here, Gregor wouldn't mind renegotiating, signing another deal and riding off into the sunset.

Meanwhile, as part of the reason why he secured his release from the Seattle Sounders and signed with the Timbers, Gregor plans to finally complete his sociology degree at Portland.

Gregor had only one semester of classes left when he turned pro in 1998. But he has to take some updated classes and plans to finish his education in August.

'I felt like it was time to do it,' says Gregor, who enters his 10th season of pro soccer. 'I made a commitment (back in '98) to my family, myself, the University of Portland and everyone out there that I would get my degree.'

He's excited about rejoining the Timbers, with whom he played 13 games in 2004, helping the team go 18-7-3. He's excited living and playing here, and resuming coaching with FC Portland. He's an unabashed Portlander.

'I'm proud to be from this town,' he says. 'Soccer in Portland is what made me as a person.

'People enjoy the game and see the good things that come out of it.'

FC Portland club climbed to top

In 1994, he and Chris Brown, a former Jesuit star and UP teammate, helped FC Portland win the regional and national U-18 championships. It's still the only boys title by a club from Portland, Gregor says. 'It's something we're all very proud of,' he says.

After his four-year career at UP (1994-97), Gregor played in Major League Soccer with Columbus and Kansas City before joining the A-League (now the United Soccer Leagues First Division).

He spent seven seasons with the Sounders, scoring 31 goals and 23 assists and developing a reputation for physical and aggressive play and attitude. A yellow card has never been foreign to Gregor.

He made the USL all-star teams in 2002, 2003 and 2006 and helped the Sounders win the 2005 USL First Division, a year after he split the season between Vancouver and Portland.

First-year Timber coach Gavin Wilkinson sought to sign the midfielder.

'Andrew adds leadership and a winning mentality to our team,' the coach says. 'I expect him to be a calming influence and also a motivator when needed.'

Gregor says Wilkinson will be a good coach after tutoring under former coach Bobby Howe.

'He's an elder statesman,' Gregor says. 'He's giving it his all. He's trying to organize it, and make the best situation possible.'

Gregor believes the Timbers, coming off a poor year, will put together a team that can contend for the title.

'Bringing a championship here would really help this club out, and soccer in Portland,' Gregor says.

It's for the kids, not the cash

Gregor admits that he might be reaching the twilight of his career. He's happy playing on the USL level.

'It's not, obviously, the glamour of the MLS,' he says. 'At the same time, the level of play isn't that much different at all. You find a lot of guys play in the USL because they love the game. It's not a money thing.

'Financially, it's obviously not the most ideal situation. It gets frustrating time to time when the day comes for bills, and you question, 'What are you doing?' '

But then Gregor thinks about the kids he might be inspiring.

'I used to go to Timbers games, and it inspired me to get to the top level of soccer and make it a career,' he says.

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