The Portland Timbers and Oregon Youth Soccer Association (OYSA) have a new integrated and innovative youth development program, which has become the foundation of the state’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) and the Portland Timbers of MLS' youth academy. The program provides elite youth players advanced training and competitive opportunities throughout Oregon.
The collaborative program between the Timbers and OYSA provides the state with a nationally recognized boy’s and girl's ODP program as well as a top-flight academy system to develop home-grown talent. The new program is designed to coexist with youth clubs and share in player development, allowing players to stay connected to their local clubs.
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Overseeing the new program is OYSA technical director Mike Smith, who also serves as the Timbers’ youth academy co-director alongside academy co'director Adam Smith, and Timbers youth academy manager/ODP coordinator Erik Lyslo. The trio oversees the club’s extensive youth soccer camp program.
One of the new major components of the ODP program is the establishment of six regional training centers, which are organized and managed by the Timbers and OYSA. The training centers are located in the cities of Beaverton, Bend, Eugene/Salem, Gresham, Medford and Vancouver, Wash. Starting each fall, each center targets elite male players in the U-12 to U-15 age groups in each area. From these training centers, a pool of players are chosen to form a state ODP team at the various age levels for regional and national competitions. This program enables the Timbers and OYSA to aid in player development in conjunction with local clubs.
Timbers Academy teams are formed at the U-16 and U-18 age groups, and compete in U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy leagues. Led by club-endorsed coaches, the Timbers Academy system identifies and develops the top youth players in the state at these age levels and provides direct exposure to U.S. National Team coaches. The formation of the Timbers Academy teams will occurred in the late Spring of 2012.
The pinnacle of the Timbers Academy system is the club’s top development team, the Portland Timbers U-23s, which competes in United Soccer Leagues’ Premier Development League (PDL).