The Portland Timbers U-16s and U-18s kicked off their 2017-18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy campaigns on Sept. 2, facing Real Salt Lake Academy teams at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
Beginning the new season on the front foot, the Timbers U-18s side opened the new campaign with a strong 2-1 win against RSL's U-18 team. With the match featuring end-to-end tempo, the Timbers opened the scoring in the 36th minute when midfielder Akil Watts scored his first goal of the game, dispossessing the RSL backline before placing his effort past goalkeeper Jacob Jackson. Less than 20 minutes later, Watts doubled Portland’s lead when he broke through the RSL backline to calmly put the ball away, recording his first brace of the season.
Following his two-goal performance, Watts was named to the U.S. U-17 National Team’s 25-player roster for a 10-day training camp in Bradenton, Fla., taking place from Sept. 5-14. The camp will serve as another preparation opportunity for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, marking the third domestic gathering for the U-17 MNT since they qualified for the World Cup at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
The Timbers U-16s opened the season with a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake's U-16s, conceding both goals in the second half.
Both the U-18s and U-16s continue their season Saturday, Sept. 9, traveling to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC academy teams on the road, and will be joined by the Timbers U-15s in B.C. The Timbers U-13 and U-14 Academy teams open their season on Sept. 9 at home against Pacific Northwest Soccer Club.