Barack Obama, Timber Joey, personal ambitions... 10 MLS Questions for Liam Ridgewell
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 12/03/16 12:59am
Liam Ridgewell has been at Portland Timbers for one-and-a-half years - and he's really enjoying life in MLS.
The former Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom defender captained Timbers to their first-ever MLS Cup trophy last season, beating Columbus Crew 2-1 in the final.
With another 2-1 win against Columbus last weekend to mark the opening game of the season, Portland now make the trip to California to face San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday - live on Sky Sports.
Ahead of the game, we asked Ridgewell 10 MLS-related questions. Take a look at what he had to say as he tells us all about his own career and life stateside.
What was it like winning the MLS Cup last season?
It was a huge achievement - for the city and for the organisation, it was massive. A lot of people didn't expect us to do it, nobody thought we could get anywhere near it, but we knew of the team's capabilities and we knew we could do it if we performed on the day.
How did it compare to winning the League Cup with Birmingham in 2011?
On the day I was excited and said it was better than winning the League Cup but it is definitely on par with it.
It was such a special thing with Birmingham, it might even have been a greater achievement to win the League Cup with them because we were such outsiders going against Arsenal, but winning the MLS Cup was a big achievement.
As MLS Cup holders, when do you get to meet President Barack Obama?
We haven't been told when we meet him! I'd say it will be when we play DC United away so that'll come towards the end of the season.
It will be unbelievable to meet him, it will be extra special being the captain and being able to get a couple of minutes with him and to shake his hand. It'll be a massive thing, that's for sure.
What's the aim this season after winning MLS Cup last year?
It's going to be a difficult year for us. Last year people were tipping everyone else. This year the spotlight is going to be on us in every game to keep on winning, so it's going to be more difficult.
But we've got the capacity in the team to carry on winning and go and do it again.
We did it last year and made a couple of additions in the pre-season. We're looking good, looking strong so why can't we win it again? It's going to be very tough because people are going to be looking at us as champions and wanting to beat us, so it's something we've got to get used to quite quickly.
You play San Jose Earthquakes live on Sky Sports this weekend, who's their main threat?
They've got Chris Wondolowski, who is a very good centre forward and plays for the national team, he scores a lot of goals. They're a very strong outfit and I'm sure this year they'll be looking to do a lot more [than last season] and are a team we've really got to look out for.
What Portland players should we be keeping an eye on this season?
Darlington Nagbe is certainly running the midfield every time we play. He's such a big player for us and to now get into the USA national team is even bigger.
He's going to go on and do bigger things and a lot more with his career. We're lucky to have him to be perfectly honest and is a good player to have in our team. With him and Diego Chara in the midfield, and if we can get Fanendo Adi scoring goals like last season with 16, we'll be up and running.
Other than Portland, who has the most passionate fans in MLS?
Seattle are very big rivals to us. They pack out their stadium, so they're certainly passionate about their team.
Whenever we play them with it being a derby. They're certainly very loud. It's always nice to play there and you certainly hear them that's for sure.
Can MLS ever compete with the Premier League?
I definitely think it can. The way the league is going there's a lot of investment into it, and they're doing it the right way by not letting the investment get too out of control.
When you get these players like Steven Gerrard, David Villa, Frank Lampard coming over here it's a different lifestyle and type of place. It's enjoyable as well so there's no reason why it can't grow and get better.
Your Lumberjack mascot Timber Joey… do you see him often?
We see him all the time! He travels with us to away games, we see him at home games before we go out and train...if we're lucky enough we get to have a beer with him or see him out in Portland.
There's no other stadium in the world where you see someone cutting a log with a chainsaw. It's just incredible really and it's such a good experience. You wouldn't get to experience that kind of thing back at home so it's another perk of coming to play in MLS.
Do you see yourself finishing your career in MLS?
I'd like to go back and play one day back in England but I've only got a year left on my contract at Portland Timbers.
I'm talking to the club at the minute so hopefully that will go well but you never know how that's going to go so it could be my last season this year.
Hopefully it isn't but it might be. I might be playing at home sooner than I expected but I think I'm always going to come home with my kids being at home, my family. I'd like to play at home one more time.