It’s a game David Ousted will never forget.
On August 3, 2013, the Danish goalkeeper made his Major League Soccer debut away at Portland Timbers. It was his first official match in North America – his first day on the job, if you will.
Naturally, you could expect Ousted to be a little anxious. And it certainly didn’t help when Timber Joey started revving up his chainsaw behind Ousted’s goal, which gave him a "little scare."
“Nobody warned me,” Ousted told reporters after the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw. “I thought a chainsaw in a soccer match, that has to be wrong.”
Nope, that’s just Portland.
Timber Joey, of course, is the club’s mascot. After each goal scored by the Timbers at Providence Park, a slice is cut from the victory log behind the north goal and celebrated in a cloud of sawdust. Ousted will be hoping there’s nothing to celebrate on Sunday, when Whitecaps FC meet the Timbers in an MLS Heineken Rivalry Week clash at Providence Park (1:30 p.m. PT on TSN).
Since that first game, Ousted has now started 97 consecutive MLS matches.
These days, he’s the first name on Carl Robinson’s team sheet every game. But it took him longer than expected to adjust to some of the challenges of MLS, such as the travel, style of play, and different venues.
“You can play in Vancouver one day and it was 15 degrees, and the next day you’re in Dallas and it’s 36,” he told whitecapsfc.com in 2014. “Coming in, I thought it would take me a couple weeks to get used to the league … that might have been a little bit naïve on my part.”
Naïve, no more.
Ousted has established himself as one of Major League Soccer’s top goalkeepers. Last year, he was an MLS All-Star and the runner-up for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Since Ousted’s debut in August 2013, no goalkeeper has recorded more clean sheets – Ousted has 33, which is 10 more than the next closest keeper. He’s also good for a highlight-reel save, or two, almost every game.
His latest was this penalty kick stop on Jozy Altidore in Saturday’s thrilling 4-3 win over Toronto FC. He also made three key saves on reigning MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco.
On Sunday, he returns to the stadium where he made his MLS debut. He won’t be surprised by the sight of a chainsaw. He’s just hoping Timber Joey won’t have any use for it this time.
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