Timbers U-23s tryout helps kick off inaugural season

The Timbers U-23s began their search for local talent over the weekend, as they hosted the team’s first-ever player tryout. Fifty seven hopefuls braved the cold and wet Portland weather to help the Timbers U-23s unofficially kick off their inaugural season in the Premier Development League.
The tryout, held at Lincoln High School, was the first major step in building the newly founded PDL team and was part of a big weekend overall for the Timbers U-23s. On Friday, the Timbers U-23s announced their first player signing – midfielder Mutanda Kwesele from Seattle University. Kwesele was discovered at one of the Timbers’ previous tryouts held in January.
The field of 57 players consisted of a mix of local current and former college players and even some players still in high school. The majority of the college players came from local schools such as Clark Community College, Concordia University, Willamette University, and Warner Pacific. Of the nearly 60 participants in attendance, 20 were invited back for the U-23s tryouts from either the club’s open or invite combines held earlier this year.
The coaching staff on hand to evaluate the talent at the tryout consisted of director of soccer development Amos Magee, Jim Rilatt, Jim Brazeau and first-team defender David Hayes. Timbers general manager and first-team head coach Gavin Wilkinson stopped by the combine on Sunday.
Saturday began with a warm-up session conducted by Rilatt, which consisted of coordinated stretches and passing drills. Following warm-ups, the players were divided into six teams of roughly nine players per team. From here the players played in small-sided games of 8v8, allowing the players to showcase their finishing and technical abilities. After an hour and twenty minutes of small-sided games, the players were divided into four teams and transitioned into full-field games. For the remainder of the day, teams played in spirited matches of 11v11.
On Sunday, the players were divided into four teams and each player had the opportunity to present themselves in a full-sided, 90 minute match. By the end of the long and grueling tryout, players had played roughly eight hours of soccer split over two days.
“The effort and enthusiasm this weekend from the players was outstanding,” said Magee. “We had the opportunity to evaluate dozens of players and playing styles and expect to find some good players that will help this team.”
“The competition was stiff and there are a lot of good players out here,” said participant Tyler Porter, who plays at Clark Community College. He, along with many others at the tryout, was excited about the new opportunity to play for the Timbers organization and the doors it could open, especially with the announcement of the new Major League Soccer franchise coming in 2011. 
The Timbers U-23s begin their inaugural season in the PDL’s Northwest Division May 9, when they play host to the Victoria Highlanders. Preseason training for the Timbers U-23s begins in late April.