Spencer Thompson
(Craig Mitchelldyer)

MLS 101: Reserve League

With the Timbers Reserves kicking off their 10-game MLS Reserve League schedule in Southern California this Sunday, MLS 101 takes a look at the Reserve League.

Major League Soccer re-launched its Reserve League this season after a two-year hiatus.

The Reserve League is a league where teams can give players who might not see a lot of first-team playing time a chance to work on their skills by playing in competitive games as well as allow players coming back from injury an opportunity to get match fit.

The MLS Reserve League provides essential developmental opportunities to players and is made possible by the growth of first team rosters from 24 in 2010 to 30 players in 2011.

The Reserve League is split into East, Central and West Divisions, with teams facing each of five divisional opponents twice for a total of 10 games per team. Clubs can also schedule additional games for their reserve squads against non-MLS opponents. The games featuring two MLS reserve teams began March 20 and will conclude Oct. 16.

Several prominent MLS players got their start in the prior incarnation of the Reserve League, which was cancelled following the 2008 season. Those that played in the Reserve League include Chris Wondolowski (San Jose), Omar Cummings (Colorado) and Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado), as well as current Timbers midfielder Ryan Pore (Kansas City).

Current Timbers head coach managed the Houston Dynamo Reserves for three seasons (2006-08) and led them to the MLS Reserve Division championship in 2008.

This year, Timbers assistant coach Amos Magee will manage the Timbers Reserves, which will likely feature rookies Chris Taylor, Freddie Braun and Spencer Thompson.

The Timbers Reserves play their first match this Sunday, April 25 at 12 noon.