BOSTON -- When Scottish forward Kris Boyd signed with the Portland Timbers in late January as a Designated Player, skeptics were abound.
Boyd had not played any first-team soccer in six months and had a disappointing tenure with Turkish First Division club Eskiehirspor. Yet, surprisingly, the 28-year-old has made an immediate impact for the Timbers, even scoring a goal in his first match with the club.
“The first goal is always the toughest to get," Boyd told Goal.com.
Boyd is widely known for his exploits with Scottish powerhouse Rangers. He made 143 appearances for the team and has the most goals in the history of the Scottish Premier League, with 164 total between Rangers and his first club Kilmarnock.
Following his successful stint in the SPL, Boyd plied his trade in England with Middlesbrough and then with fellow Championship side Nottingham Forrest on loan. Notching just 12 goals in two years, he did not meet the pace of scoring he once had in Scotland.
At the start of the 2011-12 season, Boyd made a transfer to Eskiehirspor. The move was seen as a major disappointment for the player as a wage dispute contributed to the termination of his contract. With Boyd being an free agent, there were several options for the forward.
“I had a few offers back home, but my last experience back in Turkey wasn't good. I didn't enjoy it. I was as low as I possibly could get in terms of feeling towards football," he said.
"I got the feeling that I needed to go back to basics and start loving the game. I was ready to go back to where I was at Rangers. I just didn't have the best of times in Turkey and I wanted to just prove to myself that I could play.”
Ultimately, Boyd found interest coming from Major League Soccer, particularly from fellow Scot and Timbers head coach John Spencer. The decision was an easy one.
“I hadn't played in six months. I spoke to Spencer and my decision was made up to come here as soon as he said the most important thing for me was to come and have the same grit I showed in my early days at Rangers,” Boyd said.
The American style of play was seen as a similar entity to the rest of the world and Boyd seems hopeful that the sport will continue its rise in America. He has an opportunity to be part of the process of making soccer a major sport in the United States.
“Everybody knows it is still growing here. It has taken giant steps in the last few years and it will take giant steps again in the next few years,” Boyd said. “I feel as if you come around a league that is all working together to get somewhere that they want to be, which is one of the best leagues in the world, it might take a few years to get there.”
Boyd is impressed by the athletic ability of MLS players, saying that the standard is right up there with the English Premier League.
"They are fit and energetic," he notes. "Teams make it difficult for you here and I am sure it won't be any different in the weeks to come."
Boyd seems to have settled well in Portland. He is very fond of not only the Timbers' organization and location but he is particularly happy with the system Spencer has set up for training.
“The boys are fantastic here. Every training session they give 100 percent and it shows come game time,” Boyd said. “I am like everyone else on the team. You work hard every week in training to get your place on the team on a Saturday or Sunday. At the end of the day you are a football player that is a part of a squad. If I am not preforming then I don't deserve to be on the field.”
“The atmosphere from the fans is unbelievable from start to finish," he said. "That is a great tribute to them and the way they behave themselves presents a great way to play football. I think the boys reap the benefits from that."
It's safe to say Boyd has found a home.