Not only is Hugo a fan favorite
, but he's also always gracious
in interacting with fans and answering questions. I asked Hugo about the end of the 2005 season
, the winter break and the coming year
. Here is what he had to say:
1 You had a really successful season last year personally, what was your feeling at the end of last season with Bobby Howe and Jim Taylor leaving the clubWhen both Bobby and Jim were gone I didn't know what to think. I had Bobby as a coach for 4 years. He trusted and allowed me the freedom to play. He had confidence in me (Jim Taylor included) and I will always appreciate that from both. Bobby and Jim are good people and I wish them the very best.
2 Why did you decided to return to the Timbers?I decided to return to the Timbers for many reasons. It's an honor and a pleasure each year to wear a Timbers uniform. To play in front of the best fans, the TIMBERS ARMY (and those who aren't in the army) is awesome: nonstop cheering and support. I have seen the numbers grow each year and I expect the same this season. So many great memories. Things have changed here in Portland and I want to be a part of it and help bring the Championship that the Portland Timbers fans deserve.
3 Do you know much about our new coach? How difficult will it be playing in a different style after 4 seasons of Bobby Howe's style?I don't know too much about Coach Agnello. We have spoken a few times and he is excited to have me back which gives me confidence to do what I have been for the past years and more. Maybe play an attacking midfield position, something I know I could do and have wanted to play. I don't think it will be too difficult to adjust to Agnello's style. Whatever style he wants, the players on the field will have to respond.
4 What things do you think were good about last season and need to be kept, and what things do you think need to be improved? That’s a good question. The main thing the Timbers need to do is reestablish their identity, so that when new players come in, they respect the Timbers uniform. We need players to come in and understand that we are privileged to play professional soccer every day. To understand what it means to play for the Timbers. This is my fifth season with the club and I would hate to have players who just don't give a damn and only care about themselves, I hope we left those players in the past. That needs to happen and everything else will take care of itself. If the team is meant to win the championship then we will. If not then as long as we went to work everyday for each other and gave everything we got, then that’s all anybody could ask for.
5 Do you know anything about the new players who have been announced so far? I have seen Drew play and he can score goals. Hopefully he can get some opportunities to demonstrate that.
6 Was your negotiation to re-sign with the Timbers a difficult one?It was in way because Rochester came with a good offer in December 2005. They always have a very good team with loads of talent and I was intrigued by the players they had and were signing. I told Rochester that I wanted to wait and see what was going to happen in Portland. I wanted to give the Timbers the opportunity to resign me. When time flew by and Chris was hired I wanted to see what his ideas were and with the budget rumors what deal could he offer. Obviously with the budget not being the same it was difficult to turn down other offers from a financial standpoint, but I went with my heart and I am a Timber again and can't wait for April 22.
7 There has been a lot of talk about player salaries being lower this year, was that a big factor in looking elsewhere? Yes it was because I feel that I have performed well on the field each season with the club. That I did deserved a good contract, especially after my first three seasons where I was not earning much. The budget is what it is and it's time to think about the league title and US Open Cup. Like I said, I'm happy to be a Timber and Coach Agnello knows that.
8 I asked you in 2002 about your aspirations in the game and like most players you said a career in the higher leagues (MLS or first div in Mexico). Do you think the opportunities are there to progress into the MLS or other "higher" leagues from the USL? Are you keeping one eye on a career outside soccer at all?I think they are but it is really about who you know and how they can help you. As for a career besides soccer I don't know yet. I haven't given it much thought.
9 I wanted to ask you about the turf at PGE Park having played on it for 4 years. Have you noticed it changing much, getting more difficult to play on for example or are you used to it now?I noticed it gets harder every year. One thing the organization used to do a lot was was have the grounds-crew brush and water the turf to make it softer but I guess the budget doesn't allow it or something else. Things like that make a difference when you play on it.
10 Over the past 4 seasons who have been your favorite players to play with? Is there anyone who you have wished the Timbers would have signed? (Maybe someone you yourself have suggested to the management?)Well I don't know about favorites but there is Tennyson, Fadi, Byron, Alan. I have enjoyed watching them score goals, although selfish at times but aren't all forwards (ha ha - joke!). Others include Greg Howes, he was crafty and played with confidence. Edwin Miranda and Memo Arzate are very skilled players. I wish the Timbers fans could have seen Memo play because he was the number 10 that we needed and he never got the chance. As for players I wished the Timbers signed, there's Noah Delgado from Puerto Rico, a good friend and great player. Jonathon Bolanos is somone else, very good left foot and smart player.Thank you and hello to all the loyal timber fans and new ones, see ya soon. Hugo.