U-23s head coach Jim Rillat

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Timbers U-23s began their trek towards the 2012 Premier Development League (PDL) season, playing host to their first set of two-day combines at Lincoln High School over the weekend.

It didn’t take long for Timbers U-23s head coach Jim Rilatt and company to get the first day of tryouts underway, as the coaches saw for the first time just who would be showcasing their talent with hopes of making the team.

“I feel that the group of players who we have coming in (to the combine) are an improvement for us,” said Rilatt. “We saw players that stood out over the course of the weekend.”

With the Timbers U-23s undefeated championship season two years ago, the coaching staff knew just what they were looking for and it wasn’t easy pickings, as each player offered a different skill or ability during their time on the pitch.

“We are looking for players that stand out,” said Rilatt. “Someone that can work with our returning players as well as help us improve in the long run.”

During the second day players took to the field for one last time, as they got the chance to show Rillatt and the coaching staff just how they would present themselves during games. With that in mind, the momentum and pace of the combine picked up and the full sided games allowed players to showcase individual ability as well as working together as a team.

“These players have showed us some great skill for what they do best this weekend,” explained Rilatt. “We feel that there are some players here who can possibly help us improve our team overall.”

As the first combine came to a close, it was a chance for not only the players to look forward to what the outcome may be, but also for the coaches to reflect on who they had in front of them.

“I feel that we will have a great team this year that will keep up with the type of play that we will be looking to execute,” said Rilatt. “Until we get to that point of being out there on the training field, we can only hope for the best.”