The Portland Timbers U-23s have reached the mid-season point of their 2012 Premier Development League season, presented by Billups Worldwide. The first half of the campaign featured a positive start as the team works towards a playoff berth.
The Timbers U-23s got off to a roaring start in 2012, winning their first five league matches. During that opening stretch, the team had scored 15 goals, recorded three shutouts and conceded just two goals.
Portland set a new PDL attendance record on June 1, as 8,174 fans watched a 2-1 comeback win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 at JELD-WEN Field as part of Health and Fitness School Day, presented by Providence Sports Care Center. It was the Timbers U-23s fifth victory in a row, and momentum was high.
“We had a nice stretch of home games, which did help,” said midfielder Cam Vickers of the winning streak. “Everyone gelled together and with the stretch of road games following everyone was looking to bring that success on the road, especially against some top teams.”
However the five-game winning streak made way for a set of back-to-back losses to Seattle Sounders FC U-23 and Washington Crossfire and a draw to close out the first half of the season. Despite the setback, the Timbers U-23s sit just one point out of first place in the Northwest Division eight games into the season.
“The players are not here for their own selves, which is very helpful,” said head coach Jim Rilatt. “They’ve had some bad luck, but they still hang together. I think that helps us.”
The Timbers U-23s have seen production from top to bottom on their roster, with 10 different players having scored. Two players who have been recognized for their individual performances are forward Mark Sherrod and midfielder Eric Miller. Sherrod was named the PDL Player of the Week in Week 3, while Miller was a recent call-up to the U.S. U-20 National Team.
As the Timbers U-23s open the final half of the season on Sunday against North Sound SeaWolves FC, they will look to continue to bond as a unit both on and off the field as they work towards getting back their moment in effort to achieve a common goal – reaching the playoffs.
“Getting back to how we were at the beginning of the season is what we want to focus on next,” said Sherrod. “I think we veered off a little bit, but I know we’ll get there.”