- Portland Tribune - Sports
The Timbers opened camp Monday with new coach-General Manager Gavin Wilkinson saying, 'Every spot is up for grabs.'
Starting jobs and playing time will be based on performance, although Wilkinson says he won't use a quick hook.
'A player will keep his position as long as he's playing well,' Wilkinson says. 'Everyone has a bad game, but the one thing players can do is give 100 percent. If there's a question about their work rate, that's an issue.'
• The breakdown on Portland's two goalkeepers, Bayard Elfvin and Josh Wicks:
The 6-1, 180-pound Elfvin is 26. He's been a backup in the league for three seasons. In 12 games, he's allowed 11 goals, with 49 saves and six shutouts. 'Mr. Professional,' Wilkinson says. 'You would equate him to a Tom Poltl on the field.'
Wicks (6-3, 195) is 23. He was with Vancouver the last two years (the Whitecaps won the title in 2006). In 16 games, he's given up nine goals, with 59 saves and seven shutouts. 'A big, athletic boy,' Wilkinson says. 'Somewhat unpredictable but a quite imposing figure.'
Elfin is wrapping up his indoor season with the California Cougars. He's expected to arrive before the end of the month.
A third keeper from the local area also could make the squad.
• Six-footers Chris Bagley and David Hague are the target men.
Hague, 25, has a strong left foot but is a rookie pro; Bagley, 26, has been in the pros for five years, with 23 goals in 77 games, some in the Second Division. He helped Charleston win the A-League title in 2003.
Hague is from Jarrow, England ('the closest city is Newcastle,' he says). His coach at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix took him to Seattle's 2-0 home playoff victory over Portland in 2005. 'Everyone seemed fast and fit and moved well off the ball,' he says. 'It's a different game here from back home. Players are more athletic. I think I'll be able to adjust.'
• Byron Alvarez is the Timbers' all-time leading scorer in goals (41) and points (91). But he had only four goals last year and will be elsewhere in the league this season. 'He didn't look hungry last year. I'm looking for a better return on my investment,' Wilkinson says.
• Some wonder how much midfielder Andrew Gregor, 31, has left, but Wilkinson isn't among them. 'I think he's better than ever,' the coach says. 'Last year (with Seattle) was his best season. In most countries, you can play till you're 34 or 35.'
Gregor will be an elder statesman for Portland, too.
'He's never really had a leadership role, but I'll be looking to him,' Wilkinson says. 'One of the things we lacked last year was maturity.'
• Wilkinson's wife, Heather, gave birth Feb. 18 to the couple's second child, Brooke, a girl. Son Kienan is 3.