MLS Timbers signs first 4 pro players

Screen capture of the first-four line up for the MSL Portland Timbers
Screen capture of the first-four line up for the MSL Portland Timbers, courtesy of MLSsoccer.com.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Tuesday marked the signing of the first four players for the Portland Timbers' newly-minted Major League Soccer history.

The four are goalkeeper Steve Cronin, forward Bright Dike, forward Eddie Johnson and midfielder Ryan Pore.

The players were formally introduced during a press conference Tuesday morning as the Timbers continue preparations for their inaugural Major League Soccer season in 2011.

“Each one of these individuals has earned the right to join the Timbers in Major League Soccer, and possess the qualities we are looking for from players in building the 2011 MLS team," said Portland Timbers Technical Director Gavin Wilkinson in a prepared statement. "We are very excited to continue to build a competitive MLS squad in the coming weeks and months and believe these players represent a solid foundation.”

Goalkeeper Steve Cronin
Selected 10th overall in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, 27-year-old Cronin played five seasons in MLS before joining the Timbers in 2009.

After winning 2009 USL First Division Goalkeeper of the Year honors with Portland, Cronin was loaned to D.C. United through the end of the 2009 MLS season. He played in 30 games with the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2005\ to 2008.

Cronin played in 28 matches for the Timbers in 2010 and anchored one of the top defenses in the USSF Division-2 Pro League. He ranked among league leaders in several goalkeeping categories, including third in goals-against average (0.79), tied for first in fewest goals allowed (22) among goalkeepers with 25 or more appearances and fourth in minutes played (2,509).

A native of Sacramento, Calif., Cronin finished the season with an 11-7-10 record, 109 saves and 12 shutouts.

Forward Bright Dike
Twenty-three-year-old Dike appeared in 23 games during his rookie season with the Timbers in 2010. He scored 10 goals during the regular season and ranked tied for fourth among the league’s goal-scoring leaders.

Dike recorded 15 goals across all competition for the Timbers, finishing the campaign as the Timbers second-leading scorer in 2010. He recorded four goals during the 2010 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, including a goal against Seattle Sounders FC and a hat trick against the Kitsap Pumas.

Prior to beginning his professional career, Dike – a native of Edmond, Okla. – had a standout collegiate career at the University of Notre Dame.

Forward Eddie Johnson
A native of Chester, England, 25-year-old Johnson started his professional career with Manchester United at the age of 17. He has played for Belgium’s Royal Antwerp (2004) and English sides Coventry City (2004-05), Crewe Alexandria (2005-06), Bradford City (2006-08) and Chester City (2008-09).

In total, he scored 23 goals in 133 league games during his time in Europe before joining the Austin Aztex in 2009.

A USL First Division All-League selection in 2009, Johnson ranked second among league leaders in goals (14) and points (32) over 26 games for Austin in 2010.

Midfielder Ryan Pore
A veteran of four MLS seasons with the Kansas City Wizards, 27-year-old Pore won the USSF D-2 Pro League Golden Boot award with the Timbers in 2010, finishing the season with a league-best 15 goals. He also ranked among league leaders with five assists and won the league’s scoring title with 35 points during the campaign.

A native of Mansfield, Ohio, Pore started 28 of his 29 appearances in his second season with the Timbers, taking a league-high 84 shots. He was named the USSF D-2 Pro League April Player of the Month after scoring six goals in the opening month of the season.

With Kansas City from 2005-08, Pore appeared in 58 MLS games, tallying three goals and two assists; he was the 16th overall pick of the Wizards in the 2005 SuperDraft.
The Portland soccer team's new logo.
About the MLS Portland Timbers
On March 20, 2009, Major League Soccer awarded Portland the league’s 18th franchise to begin play in the top-flight professional soccer league starting in 2011. The Portland Timbers will mark its debut MLS season in 2011 in a significantly renovated PGE Park.

Timber officials are calling the new PGE Park "one of the most unique and authentic soccer environments in the country."

The Timbers team got its start in the North American Soccer League in 1975. Now, with its MLS standing, the Timbers have launched a three-way rivalry with the Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., soccer teams – continuing what club officials are calling "the era of Soccer City USA in the Rose City."


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Player stats

Steve Cronin (CROW-nin)
Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200
Born: May 28, 1983, in Sacramento, Calif.
Hometown: Fair Oaks, Calif.
Last Club: Portland Timbers (USSF D-2)
College: Santa Clara
Citizenship: United States

Bright Dike (DEE-kay)
Position: Forward
Height: 6-1
Weight: 220
Born: Feb. 2, 1987, in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Hometown: Edmond, Okla.
Last Club: Portland Timbers (USSF D-2)
College: Notre Dame
Citizenship: United States

Eddie Johnson
Position: Forward
Height: 5-11
Weight: 185
Born: Sept. 20, 1984, in Chester, England
Hometown: Chester, England
Last Club: Austin Aztex (USSF D-2)
College: N/A
Citizenship: England

Ryan Pore
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-11
Weight: 165
Born: Sept. 23, 1983, in Mansfield, Ohio
Hometown: Mansfield, Ohio
Last Club: Portland Timbers (USSF D-2)
College: Tulsa
Citizenship: United States