In his first year with the Timbers organization, assistant coach Rod Underwood has witnessed first hand the excitement the 2007 Timbers team has created for fans and the organization. He looks forward to the opportunities of bringing Toronto FC to PGE Park and having an active role in the development of the 2008 roster this offseason.
“Having Toronto FC come to town at the end of this month is a great thing for the players, the team and the fans. For the players, this is certainly a reward for all of their hard work this season. Not only are players able to shorten their offseason by playing a little longer, but it’s a great chance for these guys to get viewed directly by an MLS team which adds another competitive aspect to the match.
“But more importantly, this is also a great reward for our fans as well. They’ve been so supportive all season and we have the opportunity to bring in another high-level team from the MLS and extend our season just one more game and provide another entertaining night.”
With Toronto FC coming to town on Oct. 28, both players and coaches remain in Portland for another month which benefits the entire organization in several ways, but most importantly fosters the relationships among those still training.
“Certainly having these 12-15 guys stick around for another month or so continues to develop the team chemistry on the Timbers working towards next season. As these players continue to train, they continue to pick up on their own strengths and abilities and learn those of their teammates. As team chemistry develops it forms a family-like setting in the sense that certain players develop roles on the team and players step up where other lack, etc. It forms more of a natural bond.”
Underwood joined the Timbers in May with several impressive credentials – including two international coaching licenses, and a USL Second Division championship with the Albuquerque Geckos in 1997. Head coach Gavin Wilkinson, Underwood and the other coaches on staff led the Timbers to one of the most successful seasons their United Soccer Leagues franchise history, and looks forward to the challenge of continuing the team’s success in 2008.
“From the beginning of my time here to the end of the season, I’ve been treated well by the coaching staff, players and organization which has created more of a desire to be involved. The success on the field this season and being so close to the finals has created this drive in all of us to work to continue the notoriety and excitement of this team. This season we’re lucky enough to be able to extend our schedule one more month and provide another opportunity to continue the excitement in 2007.
“I greatly enjoy the being in heat of the battle, working training sessions and winning games, but I also enjoy all the aspects of building the team through scouting, player contact, and tryouts etc; seeing the overall success of an organization come together. This offseason, I’m going to be involved in working with returning players, be in on the day-to-day work that brings players in for trials, as well some scouting – talking to potential players and develop relationships with college coaches. Building a roster is a slow and methodical process. The work pays off though when at the beginning of training camp everything falls into place.”