Hopefuls put best foot forward at Timbers tryout

PORTLAND, Ore.– With different experiences and from different backgrounds, over 60 players from around the globe competed at the Timbers combine with the same goal in mind – to play professional soccer.
 
The Timbers unofficially kicked off the 2008 season over the weekend as the club held its annual tryout at Lincoln High School in Portland. Through a series of matches run by the Timbers coaching staff, players performed at their highest levels looking to impress and possibly earn a spot on head coach Gavin Wilkinson’s 2008 roster.
 
Players invited to participate in the Timbers 2008 invite tryout traveled from around the United States and overseas looking for their opportunity to continue on with their dreams. Some from small college programs, others from larger NCAA programs and others who’ve had opportunities with professional clubs from around the world, the group of players provided an interesting mix of skills and playing styles for Wilkinson and his staff to evaluate.
 
Even with such a common goal, every player’s has their own story, his own reason for wanting to be a part of the Timbers’ combine this year.
 
Several players like forward Scott McCoubrey, a native of Wales, made a special trip across the pond to display his abilities and hope to have the opportunity to freshen up their careers with the Timbers in 2008.  
 
“After my season with Cardiff, I was offered contracts from other teams in Wales. I was really looking for an opportunity to get a way a little bit and just focus on my career and really see where it can take me. Portland seems like a place where I could do that,” said McCoubrey.
 
McCoubry, who suited up for Cardiff City of the English League Championship last season, spent hours on the Internet researching clubs around the world, and made his first trip to the U.S. for the Timbers combine.
 
“The Timbers seem like a good organization and a nice place to be,” said McCoubrey. “I did a bunch of research on the Internet and I heard and read a lot of good things about Portland.
 
Other players have come from as far as Kenya, France, England and Spain for an opportunity to display their abilities and earn the chance to play professionally in the U.S.
 
Many of the players invited to the Timbers tryout were collegiate standouts from around the country looking for their first taste at the pro level. Dartmouth College, San Jose State, Towson, Northwest College and UNC Wilmington are just a few of the alma maters represented. But even closer to home, were defender Mike Gavin from the University of Portland and the Webb brothers from Oregon State University.
 
“I know quite a bit about the Timbers and have been to a few games,” said Gavin. “I know many of the guys who’ve played and still play for the Timbers that went to UP.”
 
The Timbers currently have three players who attended the Univ. of Portland – midfielders Andrew Gregor and Miguel Guante and recently signed forward Chris Brown.
 
“It’s been nice to get a chance to play so much in front of the coaches and showcase our abilities,” said Gavin. “With so many players here, we’ve all played at different levels. So getting us to work as one has been an adventure. The quality of play is getting better as the weekend goes on.”
 
Both Nick and Mason Webb are also familiar with the Timbers. Both have squared off against various Timbers sides during their time at OSU during spring practice. The Timbers have had a handful of Oregon State alumni on their rosters over the years including forwards Alan Gordon, Chad Bartlome and Bryan Jordan – who was discovered at last season’s combine.
 
Both brothers wouldn’t mind the opportunity to continue the history between Oregon State and the Timbers.
 
“We’re certainly familiar with the history with Beavers players making the Timbers,” said Mason. “The former OSU players report back to the team and let us know how things are going. Certainly knowing the Timbers and the coaching staff provides a step in the door, but we still need to go out there, work hard and earn a spot like anyone else.”
 
Having played their collegiate careers in the Northwest, Gavin and the Webbs realize the difficulty of making the team through a tryout, but are excited about the potential of starting a professional career with the Timbers.
 
“I’m just taking it one step at a time,” said Gavin, who was the 2004 West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. “First worry about making the team. Then work hard to get a starting role, and then see where things go. But for now, it’s all about showing the coaches that I belong on their team.”
 
“There are a lot of quality players on the field,” said Nick. “But it will be those players who rise above all of the rest to make themselves special, stick out in some way that will be the most successful. Hopefully that will be us.”
 
“All of us here want to play at the professional level,” said Mason. “We’ve made it here to the tryout. But to standout, you have to calm your nerves, overcome outside elements and produce.”
 
With just two days to show coaches the best of their abilities, McCoubrey, Gavin, the Webb brothers and the other 60 players at the Timbers combine are all striving for a common goal. Hoping that their best foot forward was enough to continue on with their dream. Their dream of playing professional soccer.
 
Click here to view pictures from the Timbers' 2008 combine.
 
The Portland Timbers begin their 2008 USL First Division season on April 17 when they play host to the Puerto Rico Islanders at PGE Park. Season tickets and ticket packages for the 2008 campaign are currently available through the Timbers ticket office at (503) 553-5555. Click here for more information on season tickets, mini-plans, party suites or group discounts.