Academy

07 May 9:31 am

Liviu Bird of Soccerwire.com goes in depth into the creation and growth of the Timbers Academy charting not just its MLS development but also its early roots going all the way back to the USL era.

“It’s a tremendous pyramid we have within the top level of soccer here in Oregon,” Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith said. “We basically would love to have everybody on the same page and under the same umbrella.”

It's a good read and charts out how the Timbers are looking to build deep roots throughout the entire state. Take a closer look at it here.

13 March 2:57 pm

Timbers Academy co-director wrapped up his trip to France as part of a special MLS partnership with the French Football Federation. After partaking in a number of classes at the FFF's Clarefontaine national training center, Smith was able to spend some time with Ligue 1's Paris St. Germain to observe their academy system.

The PSG website had an article about the Smith and the other MLS Academy coaches (FRENCH) but Smith's time there also included some opportunities to see the French club's first team in action as well as their dramatic UEFA Champions League victory over Spain's Valencia:

Started observation week at PSG and got tickets to see their away game at Reims who were near bottom of the French table. PSG lost 1-0 to 10 men. Great atmosphere of sell out 25,000 but not like JELD-WEN!

Met with the PSG Academy Director and head coaches and watched their U19 and U17’s train today. There was a unique session for 30 minutes on the beach soccer court they have next to their field to help improve their team strength. Today was the only day of the week that they do daily double, which was interesting to see the workload.

In between sessions we got to tour their residential facility and eat lunch in their player’s cafeteria. Tomorrow we are heading back to their regional training center to see the U15 Parisian Region play which includes 8 PSG players and 3 players from Clairefontaine--French Federation Residency program.

After that, we are heading to the Champions League game, PSG v Valencia!  It has been an incredible trip so far and very worthwhile.

05 March 11:43 am

Portland Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith continues his time in France through an elite level training course as part of a special partnership between MLS and the French Football Federation. Here's his latest update.

Today was more sport psychology, and they introduced game analysis and charting, which we put into practice as we got to watch their first year students play in a game. They are born in 1999 and they played a friendly against another youth pro team. The 99’s won 6-0 and were impressive!  A number of top European Scouts were there too. 

We also watched the Parisian Center of Excellence players (1998’s) training. They did well and have certainly looked to play an attractive attacking style of football ever since we arrived here. This was the third time we have seem them train on different themes.

The photos are the statue they have of the world cup they won in 1998, the 1999’s (in red) in their game this afternoon and the French Sports Scientist showing us the data they were tracking by heart monitors and GPS of their young players…

The final one is the designated first team (National Team) pitch where finally the snow is melting.  It is reserved only for the National Team and is in pristine condition. The Chateau where we are staying overlooks it. The field is so well kept, that it has electric wire about it to keep out the wild boars!

 

26 February 5:50 pm

Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith's unique MLS-led research trip to the French Football Federation continues.

After a long first, interactive day of class, on Monday night I was lucky enough to participate in a quite incredible Commencement Dinner with Gerard Houllier and Commissioner Don Garber. I can tell you that the French Chefs are brilliant!!! There were only 7 courses. :)

The course is definitely challenging from a theoretical point of view and they are looking for things a little differently from the way we do in Licenses for US Soccer.  It is always good to see a different point of view and today (Tuesday) was more specifically looking at their teaching method, an introduction to their sports psychology module and some instruction on how to cut up videotape. 

We got to see some of the U14/15 boys here training at Clairefontaine, the Parisian Regional Training Center. The U17 French National Team arrived today for 3 days of training and we hope to see them tomorrow.

Read Part One here.

25 February 12:04 pm

From the rainy February of Portland to the snowy fields of the French Football Federation's national training facility in Clairefontaine, Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith has traveled quite a distance.

Sent as part of a special MLS initiative to broaden league academy and player development, Smith was selected to partake in a extensive Elite Formation Coaching License program that involves close collaboration with the FFF as well as on-site observation and work with Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

Freshly arrived in Paris this weekend, Smith was whisked away to the training facility and snapped a few photos:

Got to the French Training center... how amazing! It was snowing here most of the afternoon. We were taken into the local village for savory crepes for dinner with the obligatory red french wine. The scenery is so rustic and cool but we are in the middle of nowhere in the snow! Am staying in Chateau where French Men's National Team stay. I am in Lizarazu's room

Throughout Smith's stay in France, we'll post updates and photos as they come through. 

  

07 January 12:29 pm

After a record breaking year, FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi won his fourth FIFA Ballon d'Or award today recognizing him as the best player on the planet

But how did he get so good?

The venerable icon of broadcast television, CBS' 60 Minutes, takes a close look at the phenomena that is Barcelona and, in particular, they examine the strength of the legendary La Masia football academy that produced Messi. A rigorous institution, La Masia also produced Timbers midfielder Franck Songo'o who came up through the ranks with the likes of Messi, Gerard Pique, and others.

While the 60 Minutes treatment can be a bit simplistic to the experienced soccer-phile, there's no denying that is a unique look into one of the best soccer factories in the world. 

Also of note is 60 Minutes' Overtime section where they talk about how they put this particular episode together. It gets a bit deeper into the how they brought it all together as well as how La Masia works and a bit on how MLS is developing their own academies:

Another exciting development at the FIFA award ceremony was U.S. national team women's striker Abby Wambach winning the Women's Ballon d'Or. It is the first time the award has been won by an American since Mia Hamm received it in 2002. Wambach was recently in Portland in November as the USWNT crushed the Republic of Ireland 5-0 in a friendly at JELD-WEN Field.

07 December 3:13 pm

Jesse Garcia-Aguilar (left) - Photo by Portland Timbers

"It's the best environment I've been in," [Jesse] Garcia-Aguilar said. "They push us every day to become better. They treat everyone here as young pros; that's what I really like about it. They give us a lot of support. And they tell us the truth because we need the truth to become better." 

With the Portland Timbers arrival into Major League Soccer came a mandate from the league that the club would need to start a new academy system. During the 2011 season, the Timbers began with an Academy staff that set up regional training centers around the state, administration of the Olympic Development Program, and some pre-academy teams. 

Those pre-academy teams gave way to full fledged U-16 and U-18 squads that began play this fall. Most recently the team was in Florida as part of the overall U.S. Development Academy Winter Showcase.

But one element of the new academy that caused some issues upon launch was the requirement from MLS that academy players could no longer participate in their high school teams. But the academy system was built to utilize best practices from the Timbers and MLS to help develop players to the highest level they can be it for college soccer, the Timbers' first team, or even the U.S. national team.

Academy co-director breaks it down thusly:

"They're getting lots of very good practice with and against the best players," Smith said. "We are trying to develop players that ultimately and eventually can play on the first team. But also can we help get all these kids get recruited into top college programs and push them as far as they want to go?"  

Dan Itel of the Hillsboro Argus as well as beat writer for MLSsoccer.com, does an in-depth look into the new academy system through the eyes of two of its players, Jesse Garcia-Aguilar and Alejandro Segovia of the Timbers U-16 squad

Adjustements, new challenges, and a greater sense of development are all at play as the future of Timbers soccer begins in Portland. Give the whole piece a read.

29 November 2:29 pm

While the US Women's National team was busy last night at JELD-WEN Field tallying up 5 goals in their win over the Republic of Ireland, the US U-17's have been busy this week at the Nike International Friendlies in Florida.

Yesterday, the Yanks played to a thrilling 4-4 draw against Brazil and Timbers U-16 midfielder Rubio Rubin--who's been training at the US U-17 Residency Program--was particularly busy with two goals and two assists.

Backheels, throughballs and more. Rubio was busy.

13 November 4:47 pm

Rubio Rubin (Photo via USsoccer.com)

Timbers U-16 Academy forward Rubio Rubin has been busy. Already named the No. 1 U.S. Player in the Class of 2014 by TopDrawerSoccer.com, he's also been traveling the world playing with the US U-17 national team. With eight goals for the US so far in 2012, the Beaverton, OR native was recently nominated for U.S. Soccer's Young Male Athlete of the Year.

Though Rubio is up against some stiff competition that includes USMNT senior squad member Terrence Boyd--who's on the roster for tomorrow's friendly against Russia (7am PT on ESPN2 & ESPN3.com)--the honor is controlled via fan voting. 

What are you waiting for? Get voting for Rubin!

31 October 4:23 pm

Rubio Rubin (Photo via USsoccer.com)

With eight goals since June 25 for the US U-17 squad--including scoring in four straight matches--not to mention being mentioned as TopDrawerSoccer.com's #1 U.S. player in the Class of 2014, it's save to say that Timbers U-16 Academy player Rubio Rubin has been on a bit of a tear.

After training at the US Under-17 Residency Program since the 2011 Fall Semester, Rubin has traveled with the team to Spain and most recently to the Four-Nations Cup in Argentina where he tallied three goals in four matches.

USsoccer.com sat down with the Beaverton native to talk about playing so far from home and how his development has been coming along.

ussoccer.com: You’re a long way from home in Oregon being across the country in Florida at the Under-17 Residency Program. Do you ever get homesick?

RR: “I actually don’t. I feel like it’s part of life and you’ve got to make some sacrifices sometimes. I love soccer so much that this is what is best for me and my future. The decision to come here has made me a better player and developed me so much more than if I had stayed at home because I’m playing with the top-32 players in the country. I’m so blessed to be here right now and I’m thankful and cherishing this opportunity because there are thousands of kids that would want to be in this position. I know that my mom, dad, sister and brother are always going to be there supporting me. I do miss some friends and going to school with them, but eventually we were going to have to move away if you decide to go to college or go a different route. I’m not really that homesick and I’m just happy to be here. You’ve got to do what you got to do with things you love. This is such a great opportunity.”

It's a great interview about a promising Timbers Academy product. Read the whole piece over at USsoccer.com.