By Charles Barnard
It is the nature of sports to have rosters that frequently change. Although RSL has had a stable core of players it still hurts to watch players move on to other teams. One thing that I have noticed is that even if a former team member is now wearing a different team's jersey, they are still considered a part of the RSL Family.
There is no better example of this than Portland captain Will Johnson. Johnson was a fan favorite while he was here. Out of all the players that have left RSL, many people would say the loss of Johnson hurt the most. This was apparent by the applause he received the first time he returned with Portland to play in the Riot.
After last week's match with the Timbers I decided to head to the Portland locker room instead of the RSL one. I wanted to hear what Johnson thought of the RSL Family that still loves him so much.
I asked him the same question that I have asked everyone else to this point. What does the RSL Family mean to you?
It's special. I will always have very fond memories here. We won a championship and I think whenever you win a championship with a group of guys that bond is close. So that is a big part of it. From top to bottom the whole organization is professional, it is close and everyone knows each other. It is all about each other's family. They stick together. It is tight. It makes living here and playing for this team fun. It is a big deal to be a part of that family for sure.
I then asked him if he enjoys coming back here to play.
I love coming back here. It is great to see all the familiar faces. It is remarkable that they have been able to keep so many quality people around, on the front office side of things as well as on the field. That is a credit to the organization and that is one of the points about what it really means to be a part of the RSL Family. I love coming back here. I love competing against my friends. It is like playing with your brothers in the back yard except there is 20,000 people watching. I thoroughly enjoy it.
The RSL Family is more than just a slogan that the team has adopted. It is real. It is real to us as fans, but it is just as real for the players on the field. I can see that more and more with each person that I talk to. It makes me proud to think that even though we have people that are no longer a part of the RSL organization, they will still always be a part of the RSL Family.
I just want to say what a classy guy Johnson was. I came up to him after what I could tell was a really tough loss in his mind. He was frustrated by the fact that his team has yet to win on the season. After I identified myself as an RSL blogger he totally could have blown me off, but he didn't. He took time for me and really thought about what he wanted to say. I can truly see why it hurt people in the RSL organization so much to let Johnson go. It really didn't have so much to do with the loss of a great player (which he is) but the loss of such a great person.