:: McKinley Tennyson Interview ::

[27th Aug. 2002]

timberlog - It looked like you were having a little sprinting competition out there. Looked like you and Brent had a bit of rivalry going on there.

McKT - Thatís true. We try to go out there and finish up the practice with a little bit of fitness and stuff. The guys want to win. Weíre just playing around and having a good time.

Where did you grow up and did you play soccer from a young age?

I started playing when I was 5. I was actually born in Monterrey, California, but my fatherís a Lieutenant Colonel in the army so we moved around a lot. So I ended up living in Georgia, S Carolina, N. Carolina and then we moved to Indiana and I grew up there from I guess 2nd or 3rd grade on. I went to high school there, college I went to UCLA, so 4 or 5 years in LA. I played in Sweden (GIF Sundsvall) for about 4 or 5 months, that was a good time, then I came back here to play for Portland.

Was it always going to be soccer or were you involved in other sports?

I was involved in basketball, track...I also played baseball when I was little too, but I guess with soccer I kinda just...I donít know...when I started getting in the national teams and ODP (US Soccer's Olympic Development Program) and traveling over to Europe and stuff it just...it got more serious.

So it chose you in a way?

Yeah! More so! I mean I always wanted to play soccer, but I played other sports, but soccer came first.

Youíve had a kind of up-and Ėdown year. In pre-season you were scoring a load of goals and the team was doing well and then when the season started nobody could score. Is there any explanation for that?

Well the game of soccer is funny sometimes. Thereís going to be ups-and-downs and being a striker too thereís going to be periods too when youíre scoring goals and things are going in and everything you touch is hitting the back of the net and then there are times when the keeper makes a save or you just canít find the back of the net. I think the more mature thing is just to stay focused, keep faith and keep plugging away and the goals will come eventually. And thatís what Iíve done. Our team has played well and stayed confident and positive and that makes a big difference too.

So there wasnít a turning point for you personally where you said, ďthis is where things started going rightĒ?

Yeah. With the support of my family and staying faithful and always praying, Iím really religious in terms of that background, having that spiritual background, and I just keep it all in perspective I guess. On my high days...I just try and keep a balance. Thereís going to be some great days in the season, thereís going to be some bad days and you just have to kind of roll with the punches.

Is all your family back in Indiana?

Yeah, actually my brother (Marcellus) is a freshman at Wake Forest now so he just went on to college, but my mother and father are there. I have a couple of aunts and uncles that live in Chicago so a lot of my family is back there.

Do they keep an active interest in your career?

Yeah, theyíre real supportive. They come up to games when they can, when we play in the Midwest. My mum and dad they fly all over for me and my brother, trying to catch our games. Itís good to have that.

So your brother plays as well?

Yeah he plays too.

So at the moment youíre the top scorer in the A-league. When the season started did you have any idea that you would score so many goals, even having got off to a slow start.

No, I think...my situation coming into the A-League was a little shaky at first, you know? I came in, Bobby offered me a situation where I had to work hard and come here and, you know, keep developing. At the time I was still a young player. I had played a few months in Sweden and I got experience at the top-level...actually second tier I would say, but it was a good experience for me changing from college to the professional game. It's just good for my development I think, to get games and keep playing and get that confidence at this level and itís done great for me now.

So what was the situation with L.A? Before the A-league season you trained with LA. Did they offer you a contract, what was the situation there?

Yeah, itís kind of confusing, but this is what Iíll say. I went to LA and I have a great relationship with Sigi and I have a lot of friends on that team and it was a situation at that time where I think, you know...it wasnít the time. I can just say that. I think Portland, from the advice of Sigi, from my parents and other coaches who said maybe right now weíll go to Portland...get some games, get some seasoning and then weíll see what happens a little bit later. Obviously now Iím going back to LA which is great and now my careerís going again, itís rejuvenated so...I think timing is a big part of it...more so than contracts or terms or all that. I think thatís a better way to put it.

So as soon as the season ends for the Timbers youíll off to LA and then youíve signed for them for next season?

No actually...I donít want to get into all the contract, but Iím going to go and play in the playoffs with them and then weíll see from there...weíll see how things go.

So you could be back with the Timbers next year?

You never know! (laughs)

And I guess the way the system works you could be back on loan?

Thereís all different ways, weíll just have to wait and see whatís the best situation for my family and talk to my agent and things like that you know.

Whatís your longer-term goal? Is it to make a career in the MLS or going back to Europe? Was your experience in Europe a positive enough one that you want to go back?

I think for me, I think I can go back and say itís a development, a stage. Iím 23 and hopefully I have, you know, 10-12 more years of football so who knows what will happen. I could start out here in the MLS, things could open up in Europe to go, weíll just have to see. Right now Iím staying faithful and working hard every day and I think the opportunities will come. If itís to stay here in MLS thatís great because you can see that there are players in the MLS who have gone on to play in Europe as well. The key is to keep working hard, keep developing and keep a positive attitude and good things will happen

How have you enjoyed playing with the Timbers this year? Do you get on well with your teammates?

Yeah, Yeah. Itís been fun. Itís a great atmosphere, the players...especially because weíve got one of the top organizations in the A-league, so itís a great experience. Everybody on the team is great. We have fun on road trips and we bust our butts in practice and we go have dinner afterwards, so itís good.

So the game with Montreal on Thursday, you have 18 goals and they have their striker Sebrango who has 17 so itís going to be a clash of a couple of the top strikers in the A-league. Are you looking forward to that?

As a soccer player you always look forward to games. Iím just taking it as Iíve done in other games, just prepare for it, eat right, get rest and come to play for the 90 mins. Weíre obviously trying to prepare for the playoffs...obviously were in now, so just try and keep the momentum going, keep the wins going.

What do you like to do when youíre not playing.

I enjoy music, listen to all kinds of music...donít care for country too much (laughs). I enjoy watching basketball, football...just rest, just relax. I mean I have Fox Sports World so Iím always watching the soccer games on there. Then I talk with my friends and my girlfriend down in LA, Victoria.

What do you think of the fans here in Portland? Whenever you score a goal you go over to the fans.

Itís fun. We have an interesting bunch over there! They always come support us...yelling and cheering on the team. Itís good to score a goal and go there and thank them for that. Thatís my responsibility. I like to score and go and thank them for all the support they give the team.

Which of the teams that youíve played against this year have been the toughest and have impressed you most.

There are a few teams, obviously we had a battle with Minnesota. Theyíre organized and the coach prepares the team very well. Richmond gave us a fight when we went out there. Theyíre another organized team, a lot of physical guys, guys who can knock the ball around as well. And of course Seattle has had a great run this season, theyíve racked up a lot of points and are competing for the championship as well. Who knows! In the A-league you can beat any team on a given day if you come to play. Itís whoever comes to play and thatís the enjoyment of the game as well.

Well, Thanks very much McKinley. I guess I should let you get to lunch!