Timbers U-23s: 2013 Season-In-Review

Conference title match appearance highlights another successful PDL campaign

PORTLAND, Ore. — The 2013 Premier Development League season reached its conclusion over the weekend, and the Portland Timbers U-23s assembled yet another successful PDL campaign.

The team finished the regular season second in Northwest Division with a record of 7-3-4 (25pts), qualifying them for the playoffs for a fourth time. All told, 30 different players earned minutes for the Timbers U-23s this season, including players from 15 different NCAA Division I institutions as well as players from the Timbers Academy.

Once in the postseason, the Timbers U-23s went on a run to the Western Conference finals, earning the team’s second trip to the conference title match since it joined the PDL in 2009. The team twice advanced on penalty kicks during the playoffs, including an upset of the conference’s top-seeded team, the Fresno Fuego, in the semifinals.

Here are some of the highlights and storylines from the Timbers U-23s 2013 campaign.

Iron men: Timbers U-23s play 21 games in 76 days
From May 14 to July 28, the Timbers U-23s played 21 games across all competitions, averaging just over one game every three days. The Timbers U-23s played two games in the U.S. Open Cup and two summer friendlies in addition to their PDL schedule.

Midfielder Zach Barnes led the Timbers U-23s’ iron man persona this season, as he finished the season as the only player to play every minute of every competitive match (PDL, U.S. Open Cup). That amounted to 1770 minutes of play for Barnes this summer, more than 500 minutes more than any other field player.

Timbers U-23s win first-ever game in U.S. Open Cup play
The Timbers U-23s won their first game in U.S. Open Cup play with a 3-2 first-round win over the Sacramento Gold at JELD-WEN Field on May 14. The Timbers U-23s, making just their second appearance in the U.S. Open Cup, came back to beat the Gold after falling behind by two goals in the first 25 minutes of play. Forward Zack Foxhoven and midfielder Gabriel Conelian scored in the 38th and 41st minutes, respectively, to level the match before halftime, before forward Mark Sherrod delivered the game-winner in the 78th minute.

The win advanced the Timbers U-23s to the second round of the U.S. Open Cup, where they encountered another first as they played their first-ever game against a professional side in the Charleston Battery of USL PRO.

Timbers U-23s rank as Northwest Division’s top defensive team
The Timbers U-23s led the Northwest Division with the fewest goals allowed this season with 12, six fewer than any other team in the division. The team also led the Northwest Division with six shutouts during the regular season, two more than any other team.

Goalkeeper David Meves anchored the Timbers U-23s defense in goal throughout the season, and finished the year tied for third in the PDL in shutouts (6), and among league leaders in both goals-against average (0.85) and goals against (11).

The Timbers U-23s’ defense was especially stingy at the start of the season, as the team started the year with a 401-minute home shutout streak. Additionally, the Timbers U-23s posted shutouts in six of their first nine matches of the season, and outscored their opponents 12-4 in that span.

Two Timbers U-23s earn PDL all-conference honors
Barnes and Meves earned PDL All-Western Conference team selections for the Timbers U-23s after the season, capping a season full of honors for the team.

Besides the all-conference honors, Timbers U-23s players earned five PDL Team of the Week selections during the 2013 campaign. Midfielder/Defender Eric Miller earned PDL Team of the Week selections in consecutive weeks early in the season, helping the team open the regular season with three straight wins. Meves (Week 5) and defenders Bryan Gallego (Week 6) and Mark Daus (Week 12) also earned PDL Team of the Week selections.

Several players earned honorable mention on the PDL Team of the Week over the course of the season, including forwards Clark Phillips, Reinaldo Brenes and Mark Sherrod (twice), midfielders Nick Palodichuk, Jose Ribas and Barnes, Miller and Meves.

Spreading the wealth: Timbers U-23s produce 11 different goal scorers
The Timbers U-23s’ offense attacked from all areas of the field during the regular season, with 11 different players scoring for the team.

Foxhoven led the team with four goals scored, three of which came against rivals Sounders FC U-23 and Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23. Additionally, seven different players recorded an assist during the season.

Timbers U-23s prove resilient when giving up first goal
The Timbers U-23s showed plenty of mental toughness this season, as they came back to secure a positive result after surrendering the first goal five different times in PDL play.

Four of those came in a five-game stretch between the regular season and playoffs, including a 2-1 win at Victoria on July 13 in the team’s final road match of the regular season. Both of the Timbers U-23s’ goals against Victoria game came after halftime, when the team scored 11 of its 18 goals this season.

The Timbers U-23s also scored late to force overtime in its Western Conference semifinal game against the top-seeded Fuego on July 27. Defender Evyn Hewett leveled the match just two minutes after the Fuego went up with a goal in the 77th minute, and the Timbers U-23s eventually prevailed in a shoot-out.

The Timbers U-23s achieved their biggest comeback of the season on the road against Kitsap on June 15, when they came back from two goals down in the second half to tie Kitsap 2-2. Defender Saad Abdul-Salaam and Sherrod scored in the 60th and 66th minute, respectively, to level the match, after Kitsap scored its second goal in the 58th minute.

Timbers U-23s go on postseason run, make second Western Conference finals
The Timbers U-23s rode back-to-back playoff victories on penalty-kick shootouts to reach the Western Conference finals in 2013. The team’s postseason run started by defeating the Whitecaps FC U-23 in a divisional playoff match at home on July 23.

Portland’s postseason run came to an end in a 1-0 loss to Highlanders FC in a all-Northwest Division Western Conference title match, adding another chapter to the team’s rich playoff history in the PDL.