Walking onto the pitch with Kaka was a real privilege but I'm not sure he understood me
- Liam Ridgewell is currently playing for the Portland Timbers in MLS
- The 30-year-old came up against Brazilian Kaka, who plays for Orlando City
- Ridgewell welcomed his family for a visit to the United States of America
- Portland take on fierce rivals Seattle Sounders on Monday at 2:30am UK
Portland Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell writes his second column for Sportsmail with the 2015 Major League Soccer season well under way in the United States.
Here, the 30-year-old from Bexleyheath discusses his family's visits to Portland, coming up against Orlando City's Brazilian star Kaka and the upcoming clash against fierce rivals Seattle Sounders on Monday morning at 2:30am UK time.
Fifty hours. That was how long a group of our fans camped outside Providence Park before the game against FC Dallas. They already had tickets, but just wanted to be first into the stadium. Sounds crazy right?
I was walking around the city with Nat Borchers and we stopped to have a chat. It’s wicked to see supporters' passion, and they carry that throughout the matches. The atmosphere is special.
On game day I love the national anthem at the start. It’s not mine but it really gees me up. The fans swing their scarves and sing. It’s an honour to play in front of them.
Liam Ridgewell in action for the Portland Timbers with the new MLS season well under way in the States
Ridgewell (right) attempts to gee up his side during a match against New York City FC last week
We beat Dallas 3-1 for our first victory of the season, which was especially pleasing as my children Luca and Eva were over visiting with my parents Bob and Linda. Nice to get up and running.
It’s been raining quite a bit but one day we got the paddle boards out, and the kids had a splash on the lake behind my house.
Luca, who’s nine, came into training with me every day. He pottered about, spoke to the lads, and kicked the ball around. I don’t know about having his old man’s talent – can we call it that? – but he loves it. There is a lot of pressure on younger kids now, I don’t want to be too pushy, let him enjoy it.
He went training with the Timbers Under-9s one day and met Gavin Wilkinson, the general manager, and the owner Merritt Paulson. He was asking loads of questions about how much he’d spent and how much various things cost, as kids do. There were no boundaries. Merritt was lovely and had a bit of banter. Perhaps Luca will pursue a career as an agent!
Either that or a personal trainer. He spotted a dodge ball court at the local play centre so we had a game. After 20 minutes my thighs were burning. It is nothing like the film, there are trampolines and it’s tiring bouncing from one to the next. Luca wanted to keep going. I tried to teach him the dodge, dip, dive, and duck routine but he wasn’t having any of it.
My kids have now left and watching them go at the airport is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It seems to get worse every time. They are coming back in July and I’m excited already.
Ridgewell (back, second right) lines up for a Portland Timbers team photo ahead of an MLS match
Portland Timbers and Orlando City walk onto the field ahead of an MLS match in Oregon earlier this month
Portland Timbers mascot Timber Joey uses a chainsaw to cut a timber slab after a goal is scored
INTRODUCING... NAT BORCHERS
Nat is my central defensive partner and beard brother. I’ve been trying to grow mine for ages, everyone tells me to shave but I’m keeping it to annoy people.
When I saw Nat’s, though, I just thought, ‘He’s ruined it’. His is huge and makes me look like a nine year old boy. It’s a proper beard, you could certainly hide some squirrels in there.
Nat Borchers holds up a timber slab after Portland beat FC Dallas 3-1 earlier this month
The whole family of 12 is flying out and I had Dad doing some jobs around the house to prepare. He’s sorted the outdoor parasols and kegerator, which lets you have beer on tap. I’ve been practising the table tennis ready for a comp with my brothers.
One of them, Gavin, is a travel freak and he’s already bought a book on what to do. There are a lot of vineyards we can visit and we want to trek up Mount Hood, the highest point in Oregon.
It is technically an active volcano, though I read the chances of an eruption in the next 30 years are about three per cent, so I think we’ll be alright. You can ski its slopes and canoe its rivers.
I’d like to stay in a log cabin on a night off. There is no TV and you’re right out in the wilderness, surrounded by woods. Hopefully it will be a good summer.
I’ll be wearing my Thomas Royall shorts when the sun shines. We have just designed our summer 16 range, and had more enquiries from shops. I give my input when I wake up.
To organise the current range we went to a hotel in London (during the MLS winter break) and sifted through thousands of prints laid out in front of us, more or less going off our instincts. Your eyes are popping out by the end of the meeting. Hopefully we’ll see the shorts out in Vegas.
A lot of the success is down to our model Stephen James Hendry. We picked him because we needed to stand out and project the funky hairstyles and tattoos you see around Shoreditch and Hoxton. Our photographer Adam recommended him. He was very much in demand.
He’s a lovely fella. We went out for a meal and he likes to talk football and we like to talk fashion. It’s been great.
After Dallas we lost at home to Orlando, who were inspired by Kaka. He kept it simple with one-twos and his presence on the pitch was clear.
Kaka (front centre) poses for a photo alongside his Orlando City team-mates ahead of the Portland match
Kaka (left) on the ball with Montreal Impact's Nigel Reo-Coker giving chase during a match last month
It was frustrating not to do better but I watched him play in the World Cup so to walk out with him and be captain on the same day was a real privilege. On the pendant handover I said good luck but that was about it. I don’t know if he knows English, Gracias and Bonjour is my lingo limit.
We redeemed ourselves in the next game at New York City, winning 1-0. The clean sheet was hugely satisfying. When I first signed my professional contract with Aston Villa I took the family to America and New York. We did all the shows but not Yankee Stadium, so it was surreal to play on that grass. I got a couple of pictures standing on the pitcher’s mound.
To win there was special. David Villa didn’t play because of injury but hopefully I can face him later on this campaign.
New York City FC's David Villa (right) looks to leave New England Revolution's Scott Caldwell in his wake
Up next on Sunday night US time are Seattle Sounders, our fiercest rivals. I would say local but the city is about 150 miles away. There will be 65,000 there and the atmosphere promises to be intense, louder than a Villa-Blues derby.
Last season I was on the bench as I had just signed and wasn’t able to play. I sat looking at the thousands of fans, the fireworks, and the flags thinking ‘Wow’. I knew I had made the right call to come to the MLS.
Portland Timbers players run out onto the field ahead of clash with rivals Seattle Sounders in 2013
Seattle Sounders fans show their banners and flags ahead of a match against Portland last year
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