Last weekend’s Timbers Academy games provided an early-season test for both squads, as well as an introduction to the Timbers-Whitecaps FC Cascadia rivalry for many of the Timbers U-16 Academy players.
Despite conceding a penalty in the first 10 minutes, the Timbers U-18s (0-2-1, 1pt) battled in a closely contested match against the Whitecaps FC U-18s until a pair of late second-half goals gave Vancouver a 3-0 win on Sept. 28 at the adidas Timbers Training Center. But the first Cascadia clash of the early season provided a positive challenge for the team as it looks toward reaching the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs for a second straight year.
“You watch the first team games and you see the intensity that goes into those games,” said Timbers U-18s captain Peter Prescott (Vancouver, Wash.). “We play games against [other MLS academies], but Cascadia games are the most intense.”
The Timbers U-16s (0-2-1, 1pt) fell 3-2 to the Whitecaps U-16s in a hard-fought encounter in what was, for many, their first taste of the Cascadia rivalry’s Academy version. Ten of the Timbers U-16s starting 11 were playing in just their third Academy game and were introduced first-hand to the Cascadia rivalry. Jose Perez-Flores (McMinnville, Ore.) tallied both goals for Portland in the loss.
“We talked about the last two games the [Timbers] first team played against Vancouver, 3-0 and 3-0 [wins],” U-16s head coach Andrew Gregor said. “There was going to be some edge to this game. As we move forward, the players are going to get more and more into this rivalry, especially when we play Seattle as well. That’ll be something they experience and realize ‘Okay, these games are different than normal Academy games.’”
Through three games, Reid Baez leads the Timber U-18s with three goals, while Joe Corner and Perez-Flores have each tallied two goals for the Timbers U-16s.
The Timbers Academy teams continue U.S. Soccer Development Academy regular-season play on Sunday with a their first road trip of the season to face the San Juan Soccer Club at Mather Soccer Complex in Mather, Calif. The U-18s are set to kick off a 9 a.m. (Pacific), and the U-16s are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. (Pacific).