Timbers Reserves aim to extend unbeaten streak
The Timbers Reserves continue their 2011 season with a late-morning matchup against the Chivas USA Reserves on Tuesday in the final Reserve League game at JELD-WEN Field this season.
Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. PT and the Timbers and Providence Health & Services will play host to a canned food drive, benefitting the Oregon Food Bank during the match. Tickets, priced at $10, are available for purchase through the JELD-WEN Field box office.
Timbers Reserves head coach Amos Magee spoke about the team’s continued development of the organization’s younger players, "We've had a very good Reserve group [this season], they've put in the right amount of work and the right mentality and we've had good results. We've mixed in trialists that have come in and done a good job. I think we feel very good about it."
Riding a five-game unbeaten streak, the Timbers Reserves (4-2-2, 14pts) can't catch the Sounders FC Reserves for first place in the West Division, but today’s match against Chivas USA Reserves and next week’s finale against Whitecaps FC Reserves remain important (Oct. 3).
"Everything is toward the first team, the Reserves we look at it as a bonus," Magee said. "We'll have a couple first team guys play [today], but they probably won't play the full 90 because we've got to be thinking about keeping them fresh and ready so if we need them on the weekend against Vancouver’s [first team] they're ready to go."
Timbers head coach John Spencer added, "They’re always important. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t look at it that way because in Houston as a Reserve team coach, I wanted to win Reserve team games and it’s the same here. I think if you’re going to try to build a successful club, you’ve got to try to build it from the foundation up. That’s winning youth team games, ODP games, PDL games, whatever it is if you’ve got a Timbers uniform on, then you’ve got to try to win games and that goes right through the whole club."
For the players, the Reserve League matches are an essential way to push the first team and also show the coaches further looks for potential playing time as the end of the year quickly approaches.
"How you play in the Reserve League can often be how you'll play in the first team games," said forward Bright Dike, who has scored two goals in three Reserve League appearances for Portland. "You take it just like a first team game and get that experience and composure and confidence that you need.
"The big picture is to contribute as much as you can to the first team to help them get into the playoffs, that's our number one goal. They always say you're as good as your weakest link and these are the players that are going to push the players above and try to get into the first team, as well."
Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, who is a perfect 3-0-0 minding the net for the Timbers Reserves this season, could get the call on Tuesday as Adin Brown is day-to-day while continuing to recover from a concussion.
"That's a record that I'd like to keep intact," Gleeson said. "The main thing for me is to get out there and put in a solid performance. In the position that I'm in, I don't get a lot of games and the Reserve League isn't a long season so these games are vital for me in getting 90 minutes under my belt and trying to play as well as I can.
"Everyone on the Reserve team wants to be on the first team, so we go out there and train as hard as we can and playing in the Reserve League games is a good chance to showcase our abilities and how we've improved. As a whole group, the Reserve team and the first team are both pushing and trying to get these last wins and trying to finish off the season positively."