Over the last four years, the Portland Timbers fans who track the team’s Academy products have had to marvel from a distance, with the miles between the Rose and Emerald Cities serving as arms’ length between Blake Bodily and his hometown. But after a career at the University of Washington that culminated with Pac-12 Player of the Year honors and a trip to College Cup, the Timbers product is back, with his club having announced his signing to a Homegrown Player contract.
“Blake will start with T2 with an opportunity to earn first-team minutes,” the team’s president of soccer, Gavin Wilkinson, said in its Friday announcement. We’re happy for Blake and his family and look forward to his continued growth as he begins his professional career.”
Bodily had kept close with the Timbers organization during his time in Seattle, most recently training with T2 during his time home from school last summer. Now, at the start of preseason, he’s training with the first team, joining former Academy teammate Marco Farfan as well as Eryk Williamson as Homegrowns on Portland’s MLS squad.
Like both Farfan and Williamson over the last two years, if not moreso, Bodily will get time with the team’s United Soccer League club. Though that team has yet to open preseason (and will do so next week), Bodily currently projects to be the team’s starting left winger, with his ability on the ball also making him a likely option on set pieces and corners.
Blake Bodily, then part of the Timbers Academy, playing in his T2 debut match against Seattle Sounders FC 2 in 2015. (Portland Timbers)
“It’s something that I’ve been striving for my whole life, becoming a professional soccer player,” Bodily said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Getting the opportunity to play for Portland, a team I played for in the Academy, is a dream come true. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The tempting comparison here is with Foster Langdorf, another Academy product who, after a record-setting career with another Pac-12 school (Stanford), returned to Portland on a Homegrown deal before the 2018 season. Langsdorf made two league appearances during his time with his boyhood team but thrived at the USL level, scoring 21 times in 57 appearances over his first two professional seasons.
Bodily, however, is a completely different player, with the most obvious of those differences being the players’ positions. “I’m a speedy winger who has the ability to get in behind,” Bodily said, when asked for a scouting report on himself, “to hopefully score goals and assist on goals.” As his final year at Washington hints – having scored 12 times and collected six assists in 19 games – Bodily is capable of doing both, but his contributions at the next level are unlikely to be defined by his statline. Over the length of the field, his game, as it develops, could be difficult to boil down to the easy numbers.
A better description may be the accolades, for now. First team All-American last year, after his junior season up north. First team All-Pac-12, for the third year in a row. Semifinalist for the MAC Hermann trophy. Number five player on Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 100. Over the course of three seasons, the Tigard High School alum amassed 17 goals and 18 assists across 56 games, crafting a resume that left him with little left to prove at the collegiate level.
“I felt like I accomplished all I really wanted to do up there,” he admitted. “We won the Pac-12. We had a good run in the tournament. Winning Pac-12 Player of the Year and becoming first-team All-America is pretty much all I could ask for. Taking the next step is something I wanted to do, in my career.”
That next step will likely see him at the disposal of Timbers 2 head coach Cameron Knowles, though who knows for how long. 2020 seems destined to be one of transition for Bodily, with the adjustment to the professional game being his main focus. His future, though, could eventually see him back at Providence Park. After all, there’s a reason why the Timbers thought him worthy of a first-team deal.