Dylan Tucker-Gangnes Q&A: Portland is “the team that I love”
By Liviu Bird
SEATTLE — Bainbridge Island, Wash., native and former University of Washington Husky Dylan Tucker-Gangnes seems to have more Seattle connections than Portland ties. So it came as a slight surprise that Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter used the club’s only 2013 SuperDraft pick on the center back.
It was also surprising because Tucker-Gangnes didn’t seem to fit in with Porter’s possession style of soccer. On a college team predicated on direct play and athleticism, the 6-foot-3 defender and captain led by hitting long, diagonal passes to streaking forwards and wide midfielders.
He also led the team with eight goals his senior year, a feat almost unheard of from a central defender. Tucker-Gangnes is a set-piece specialist, both in hitting shots and finishing balls in the box.
Porter also saw his potential on the ball, playing him at outside back in preseason. The head coach said he was impressed with Tucker-Gangnes’ composure and ability on the ball.
In 2011, he played for the Timbers U-23s in the Premier Development League, racking up the fourth-highest total of minutes played on the roster. That’s where he got a feel for the Portland club and the atmosphere surrounding it.
Tucker-Gangnes has yet to play a minute in MLS, although he played the full 90 for the Timbers Reserves in a 1-0 win over the Sounders Reserves on Sunday. Cascadia Soccer Wire caught up with him briefly the night before, in the locker room after the first teams battled to a 1-1 tie.
Soccerwire.com: This was your first Cascadia Cup experience. You didn’t get in the game, but what did you think?
Dylan Tucker-Gangnes: It’s the best rivalry in MLS. You can tell by the traveling support of the Timbers Army, and the Seattle fans also bring it every game. So it’s what I expected it to be. It was amazing.”
SW: You’re from the Seattle area. Is it a little strange going down to play for Portland?
DTG: No. I mean, I played for their Under-23s, and it’s the team that I love. I’m happy to be there.
SW: How does having the U-23 team affect the transition? You and Steven Evans both played with the Timbers U-23s, and DeAndre Yedlin played for the Sounders U23, and you’re all on the first team now.
DTG: By having the under-23 experience, you kind of get brought up in the system, and you get to see what it would be like to play for the first team. So it becomes a team that you want to play for.
SW: What do you like about playing for Caleb Porter?
DTG: I like our style of play. I like that we have a good group of guys here in the locker room that have a don’t-quit attitude. The pieces are coming together nicely.
SW: When you played for the U-23s, did you get a chance to train with the first team at all?
DTG: We had our own season going on during that summer, so here and there maybe with a training session, but not consistently.
SW: You also played in college, so that’s another part of the development path. What has the step up been like from NCAA Division I to MLS?
DTG: It’s a big transition, but at the same time, it’s exactly what I expected it would be. It’s been cool.