The kid from Camas who dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player is getting his opportunity close to home.
On Jan. 4, Brent Richards signed the dotted line on a Major League Soccer contract with the Portland Timbers.
“It’s definitely a dream come true, and something I’ve always wanted to do since I was little,” Richards said. “I couldn’t think of a better place to start my career. A lot of people in Camas and Vancouver have helped me along the way. It’s going to be a privilege to play in front of them professionally. I’m real happy I came from this community.”
The 21-year-old spent the past three seasons playing on the program’s U-23 development team. He delivered an all-time best 26 goals, and 12 assists, in 37 games. In 2010, Richards led the U-23 Timbers to the Portland Development League championship. He received several accolades that season, including the league MVP and the finals MVP.
“Over the years, I’ve just come to really respect and appreciate what this organization has done for me,” Richards said.
Richards is wrapping up his final semester at the University of Washington in March. In four seasons with the Huskies, Richards racked up 31 goals and 15 assists in 32 games. He plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in economics, and hopefully be back in time for Timbers’ first home game on March 12.
“This is going to be a big jump from the past,” Richards said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. I just hope I can play and be successful for as long as I can.”
Richards was a key cog in the Papermaker soccer teams that won state titles in 2006 and 2008. As a senior, he went out on top as a state champion and the Gatorade Player of the Year. Since Richards graduated from high school, his former coach Roland Minder has been an loyal follower.
“I’m very pleased with his success, but in a lot of ways, I’m not surprised,” he said. “I always knew Brent would achieve whatever he set his mind to. He has such impeccable character.
“He has risen to every occasion,” Minder added. “He hit the weights right when he got to college, and did everything he needed to do to be successful. He became one of their best players ever just like he became one of our best players ever. I am absolutely confident he will do whatever it takes to rise to the occasion [with the Timbers].”
Camas soccer players have been privileged to watch Richards grow up in their own backyard. And now, they won’t have to go far to watch him live his dream.
“It does seem like only yesterday that he was playing soccer in high school. He has accomplished a tremendous amount academically, on the field and every which way,” Minder said. “I am just honored to have been a part of his life in his younger years. He is definitely a person to tell every single one of my players to look up to. Try and be like Brent.”