PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Timbers and U.S. Soccer announced today that the Timbers have been selected to join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy starting in the 2012-13 season. Entrance into the U.S. Soccer Development Academy is a significant step in the development of the Timbers’ comprehensive academy and youth development system.
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy provides elite youth soccer players from across North America with the best development opportunities to achieve their potential on the field. The Timbers will field teams at the U-15/U-16 and U-17/U-18 levels, playing a 10-month season and competing in the Northwest Division against other academy sides from Major League Soccer clubs, including Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, as well as other elite youth clubs.
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy also connects National Team coaches directly with academy teams to help develop and identify players and coaches for future Youth National Teams.
“We are delighted to have our academy teams at the U-16 and U-18 levels join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and compete against top youth clubs in North America,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers general manager. “This is a big step in the progression of our youth development program, one that is fully supported by our alliance clubs, the Oregon Premier League and the state association. We look forward to getting these teams started and expanding the reach of our youth player development.”
The Timbers Academy teams will begin play in the fall for the 2012-13 season. The tryout process for both the U-15/U-16 and U-17/U-18 teams begin with an open tryout June 30-July 1; details will be announced at a later date.
“The Portland Timbers had great success in their inaugural season in MLS and look forward to continued success this season, as well. The addition of the Academy program will provide a sound platform for elite youth player development in the area,” said U.S. Soccer Development Academy Technical Advisor Hugo Perez, who oversees the Northwest Division. “The Portland area has consistently developed a strong player pool for youth national team programs. We hope the addition of the Portland Timbers Academy program will help continue to improve upon the history of player development.”
Through strategic partnerships with the adidas Timbers Alliance clubs, the Oregon Premier League, Oregon Youth Soccer Association (OYSA) and Oregon’s Olympic Development Program (ODP), the Timbers have built an innovative and comprehensive youth development system, providing elite local players a path from the youth levels to MLS. The collaborative partnerships provide Oregon with a nationally recognized boy’s ODP program and a top-flight academy system to develop home-grown talent.
At the foundation of the Timbers’ development platform are six Regional Training Centers throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, which identify and provide advance training opportunities for U-12 to U-14 players. The state’s ODP teams and Timbers Pre-Academy teams are selected from the pool of players affiliated with the Regional Training Centers.
At the top of the Timbers’ development pyramid are the Portland Timbers U-23s, an amateur team that competes in United Soccer Leagues’ Premier Development League (PDL). The Timbers U-23s enter their fourth season of play in 2012 and have produced four players on the Timbers’ current MLS roster, including goalkeeper Jake Gleeson and the club’s first Homegrown Player, Brent Richards.
The adidas Timbers Alliance was formed with three elite local youth clubs – Eastside Timbers, Westside Timbers and Vancouver United Timbers – and is designed to build unique working relationships and development opportunities to help channel the top youth players towards the Timbers’ development programs and the Timbers Academy.
For additional information on the Timbers Academy or the club’s youth development system, visit www.portlandtimbers.com.