by: COURTESY OF DAVID BLAIR - Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers will be on the MLS roster for the Aug. 6 All-Star Game against Bayern Munich at Providence Park.All-Star Game selection is not a perfect science in any professional sports league.

Major League Soccer is no exception.

MLS has its fans vote for 11 players. The fan vote does not matter, though, because the coach of the All-Star team can choose any players he wants.

However, Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter, who will coach MLS against Bayern Munich Aug. 6 at Providence Park (6:30 p.m., ESPN2), has elected to use all 11 players voted in by the fans.

Porter also has added two Timbers to the 23-player roster — Will Johnson and Diego Valeri.

On one hand, Johnson and Valeri’s stats are not overwhelming for Portland (5-6-9, 24 points, seventh in the Western Conference). Valeri has four goals and eight assists. Johnson has five goals and two assists.

On the other hand, it is easy to see why there would be players from the hometown side on the All-Star roster, especially when their coach is picking the squad.

“I wish I had more Timbers on it,” Porter says. “I’d put a lot more Timbers on it if I could. There are more Timbers that are deserving.”

Porter says it was a challenge making the other selections.

“It’s a group of guys that have earned it,” Porter says. “More than anything, I felt it was important to reward guys that have earned it. There are a few guys that aren’t on there from around the league that probably earned it.

“At the end of the day, you have to draw the line, and we’re going to name 23 guys, but there are still a few guys that should be on there that deserve it. There are a lot of good players in this league, a lot of attacking players that have had good seasons.

“The irony of that is if I picked all the players that earned it I’d be playing a formation that wouldn’t work in the game, with too many strikers. I still took more strikers than probably I should have, because they deserved it. In the end, we are going to highlight the players and showcase their abilities. Try to make it a game, try to make it exciting at the very least. Maybe it will be a 5-5 game.”

• Desperately needing to find some quality on the back line, the Portland Timbers acquired defender Liam Ridgewell earlier this month and wasted no time inserting him in the lineup.

The 30-year-old defender from Bexley, England has an impressive resume, having played in 250 matches over 11 seasons in the English Premier League with Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion.

Ridgewell practiced with Portland for only a week before Porter inserted him into the Timbers’ starting lineup Friday against the Colorado Rapids.

“He was outstanding,” Porter says, of Ridgewell’s performance. “Especially considering he has only trained five days, coming off an offseason, a five-week offseason, and he hasn’t played a game since April.”

Ridgewell helped Portland win 2-1.

“Early on, he was getting used to the turf a little bit,” Porter says. “For me, the play that summed up his performance was when (the Rapids’) Dillon Powers was driving late in the game, top of the box and (Ridgewell) just held his position and cut the shot out. It’s those little plays that we need our defenders to make to win games. This game is a game of moments. He did a lot of little things to help us.”

Ridgewell says he was excited to be on the pitch in a Timbers


“It felt great,” he says. “I’ve had a few training sessions, and then suddenly a game, and that was great to get the game in. (Defender) Danny (O’Rourke) helped alongside me and kept pushing me on, so it was obviously fantastic to get the 90 minutes in under my belt. The only way to get to know everybody and get used to the crowd and the game is to go out there and play. So it was very good to do that.”

• Portland defender Jack Jewsbury has struggled at times this season. The 33-year-old former captain of the Timbers has been in and out of the lineup. Against the Rapids, Jewsbury got to experience a shining moment, when he got his second assist of the season on a gorgeous cross to Maximiliano Urruti.

“It’s the nature of the business as you get a little older — sometimes you’re going to be in and out of the lineup,” Jewsbury says. “But I’d like to think the coaches know that at any point, wherever they want to slot me in, they are going to get a consistent performance. It felt good to be able to contribute.

“I don’t get forward a whole ton, but when I do, I try to put in some good service.”

Stephen Alexander

Contract Publishing

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