The Timbers U-23s take the next step towards preparing for their inaugural season in the Premier Development League when they host their first player tryout this weekend. Timbers director of soccer development Amos Magee talks about building a team from scratch, goals for the club’s development program and adding the Timbers U-23s to Portland’s rich soccer tradition in a conversation with PortlandTimbers.com.
PortlandTimbers.com: As the club gears up for the Timbers U-23s tryout this weekend, it’s an exciting time for soccer in Portland. What do you feel are the overall expectations for this development team and how does it fit into the Timbers organization?
Amos Magee: We are very ambitious about our PDL team … We expect the Timbers U-23s to provide a great development platform for the Portland-area's top young players. As with the first team, we will expect this team to win games and we hope that the Timbers U-23s will compete for a Northwest Conference title even in our first year. It is our hope that several of our PDL players show well enough to get called up to the first team in the future.
PT: The Timbers U-23s will play their home games at different venues around the Portland area this season, what was the motivation behind this decision?
AM: We want the Timbers U-23s to represent the best of the Portland soccer community – that includes players, fans and youth soccer support. By playing our matches in different Portland-area communities, we feel this team will help show aspiring young soccer players that playing at high level is possible in their own backyard. The Timbers U-23s will serve as a bridge from youth clubs, high schools and colleges in the area to what we believe is the top professional club in the Northwest and beyond.
Additionally, the Timbers organization has an unbelievable passion for community involvement and by playing games outside of PGE Park allows us yet another opportunity to continue our grow our roots in the soccer community and create a deeper awareness for the entire club.
PT: The Timbers U-23s open the PDL season at home May 9. How are preparations going for the upcoming season? There is a lot to assemble before then – coaching staff, players, etc.
AM: We are working very hard to get everything done before the start of the season. We have seen several talented players come through our previous tryouts this year and we have been watching and observing college spring games. After the tryout this weekend, we’ll put together a training group that will start up in late April and then start adding in college players that we have scouted and feel fit into our plans.
PT: This weekend marks the Timbers U-23s first tryout. What do you foresee the Timbers U-23s’ inaugural roster looking like?
AM: Our Timbers U-23s roster will consist of young talented players from the greater-Portland area, local college players and even some over-age players we believe are on the cusp of joining our first team in the near future. We will see all types of players at our tryout this weekend, but expect to find players from each of the three categories previously mentioned at our trial. We have done a significant amount of scouting in the area and at college spring games. Even though this is our inaugural season, we have high expectations for this group.
PT: Are there any players you already have your eyes on?
AM: The Portland community has a rich tradition of developing outstanding young soccer players, and our coaching staff is familiar with many of the players who are eligible to play for our PDL team.
PT: Lastly, what do you feel are the short and long term goals for the Timbers U-23s program?
As a club, we have three major goals for the Timbers U-23s. First, we expect this team to serve as a training and development ground for the best young players from the Portland area. Second, as a collective group of coaches, whether first team or PDL, it is our mission to ultimately develop players both long- and short-term for the club’s first team. Finally, we want to showcase the top young players from the area not just within Portland, but around the Northwest all while developing a winning tradition.
The Timbers U-23s open the 2009 PDL season at home May 9 against the Victoria Highlanders. Click here for more information about the Timbers U-23s.