Feature: Kyle Porter
At first, Kyle Porter answers questions with a sentence or two, but as the conversation flows, he begins to open up more. A sort of metaphor for his rapid rise with D.C. United, Porter is beginning to break out for the Black-and-Red’s attacking corps. Stepping in for 2012 Rookie of the Year runner-up Nick DeLeon is no small feat, but Porter has exceeded expectations. The winger almost scored his first career goals against the Columbus Crew on 3/27 – this strike was called back – and on 4/27 – this shot almost sneaked in on the near side, but hit the post.
“I’m still getting used to the League and everything,” acknowledged Porter. “I think as time goes on, there are only positives [to come]. I think the more experience [I get], the better I’ll be.”
While the talented flank man might be lacking in MLS experience, he is definitely not short in his soccer resumé, having played in five different leagues in five years. Starting in Whitecaps FC Residency, Porter went on loan to FC Energie Cottbus in the German Junior Bundesliga at the age of 18.
“I had culture shock at first because when I first moved [to Germany],” said Porter. “We had to install everything from, like, the sinks, to the cupboards, to the lights. So, it was different.”
But Porter welcomes “different.” Moving from Germany back to Vancouver with Whitecaps FC while it was part of the United States Soccer Federation’s D-2 Pro League, then to FC Edmonton of the North American Soccer League and finally here in Washington, D.C, Porter understands this is the nature of life as a professional athlete.
“It’s just being ready at all times and making sure you’re ready to perform at any time, any moment,” explained Porter. “I think that’s the mindset you have to have because anything can happen in this sport.”
Having played soccer since the age of six, Porter has always had the drive to do whatever it takes to follow his passion. Joining D.C. United, though, has had a particularly large impact on the 23-year-old.
“Since I was young, I have always looked up to him,” said Porter, speaking about fellow Canadian and United captain Dwayne De Rosario. “And to finally play with one of my role models – it means everything.”
Porter has also represented Canada with De Rosario and United center back Dejan Jakovic. Both Jakovic and De Rosario offered advice when Porter was offered a try out for the Black-and-Red.
“They only had good things to say about the club and the organization,” recalled Porter. “I was really happy to come here.”
And the feeling from the organization is mutual. When DeLeon went down against Columbus on 3/27, it was a big hit to the team’s offensive firepower, but Porter has been a pleasant surprise. The dynamic winger has contributed 285 minutes this season and was instrumental in the Black-and-Red’s attack against the Crew on 4/27, registering two shots and five successful crosses. Porter attributes his improvement thus far to his increasing confidence and comfort.
“Every game I play in, I think it gets better,” said Porter. “It’s just a learning process… I am getting more familiar with the team, and yeah, confidence is big.”
As his confidence on the pitch increases, we can only expect bigger and better things from this young, rising star. Full disclosure – it definitely takes confidence to admit this— one of his favorite shows is the Vampire Diaries.
“I like Dexter,” began Porter, “and Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, I used to watch Fringe but it finished, and House of Lies. I like a couple of girly shows like the Vampire Diaries—it’s amazing—and 90210.”
While some of his television choices might be suspect—and he claims to only watch 90210 to kill time— his tattoos have deliberate and meaningful decisions behind each and every one of them. At the risk of being cliché, Porter actually wears his heart on his (tattooed) sleeve.
He has a guardian angel on his shoulder, so that that everywhere he goes, someone is watching over him. A quote accompanies the angel reading, “Take the first step in faith” Then, as you travel down his arm, there are roses for his mom and dad, representing love, inked in both Jamaican and Canadian colors intertwined. There is also a crown with a “K” that reads “Self crown through my struggles,” and Roman numerals for 1990, his birth year. As he points to his elbow, he said “Only the strong survive,” and below that is a blue jay, for his hometown of Toronto. Next to the blue jay ink, Porter explains “And that is the key to my heart.” Flipping over both wrists, he shows one wrist with the word “belief” and on the other, “confidence”—the buzzword.
Porter understands, as do his coaches and teammates, that his confidence level is only going to increase as he logs more minutes and experiences more success. He believes his ability to take on defenders, whip in crosses and attack the goal are his biggest strengths— which is driven by confidence. Being an experienced player in other leagues, Porter realizes that confidence, on both individually and as a team, doesn’t exclusively come from within.
“The fans are everything,” Porter said. “I think that without their support we’re nothing as professional soccer players.”