Soccer: Hogg makes inroads at Portland Timbers

Ian Hogg's Major League Soccer career with the Portland Timbers is on the right track says the All Whites and former Auckland City defender. Photo / Auckland City Media
Ian Hogg's Major League Soccer career with the Portland Timbers is on the right track says the All Whites and former Auckland City defender. Photo / Auckland City Media

All Whites defender Ian Hogg says his Major League Soccer career with the Portland Timbers is on the right track.

The 22-year-old made his international debut for the All Whites against El Salvador back in February before lining up at the London Olympics with the Oly Whites.

After a torrid introduction to international football at the OFC Nations Cup in Honiara in June, Hogg put that memory behind him after signing a fulltime professional contract with Portland Timbers in USA's Major League Soccer.

"Things are working out great. Being able to train day in day out with quality players with the best facilities is fantastic. My first reserve game was against LA Galaxy and I was fortunate enough to get to play against Landon Donovan,'' Hogg said.

With Hogg's professional breakthrough taking a setback in Sweden just after last year's FIFA Club World Cup exploits in Japan with Auckland City, the quick left back's transition into life at Portland Timbers has been smooth by comparison.

"Portland Timbers are a great club and have been hugely supportive. The biggest difference on the playing field is the quality of players and the high standards they set themselves. Major League Soccer is attracting big-name world-class players and the fitness levels are very high as you need to be able to compete.''

Hogg followed his Galaxy debut with a full 90 minute performance in a 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders.

His new life in Oregon has been made easier by the presence of another Kiwi - All Whites goalkeeper Jake Gleeson - who is also on the Timbers roster.

"Having Jake here helps a lot. When I first got here he made sure I settled in and acts as my taxi,'' Hogg joked.

Hogg's club allegiances remain intact with the defender making regular checks on the fortunes of Auckland City who will take part in their fourth Fifa Club World Cup this December in Japan.

The two-time Olympian played in two club World Cups for Auckland City; in Abu Dhabi in 2009 and in last year's 2-0 defeat to Kashiwa Reysol in Toyota, Japan.

"I think Auckland City's players needs to believe in their ability and not give any cheap goals away early in that first match with the J-League winners on December 6 and then anything is possible,'' Hogg said.

While Hogg's former club eye another club World Cup adventure, Hogg's focus is making a name for himself with the Timbers.

With another Kiwi connection through former All White and Portland general manager, Gavin Wilkinson, Hogg's hopes of making a positive impression remain high.

"All the coaching staff at the Timbers have a wealth of experience and I've learnt a lot from them even over the short period of time I've been here,'' he said.

"With Gavin being a fellow Kiwi and a former top player here and a great coach he can relate to my style of play and is always there to talk to.''

While Hogg has taken to life in Major League Soccer, he has had time to reflect on the All Whites disappointing OFC Nations Cup campaign.

Two wins from their first two stage three qualifiers have Ricki Herbert's team on course for next year's intercontinental playoffs.

"The All Whites have given the best possible response. It was obviously disappointing at the OFC Nations Cup but Ricki and the team have started with two important wins and I'm sure the good results will continue,'' he said.

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