Blake Bodily has played for Timbers 2 before. This Saturday will be different. When he takes the field this weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, the 2019 Pac-12 Player of the Year will be doing so as a full professional.
That’s the life the Timbers Academy product opted into when, after his last season at the University of Washington, the Idaho-born Tigard, Oregon, native decided to forgo his final year in Seattle, return to Portland and sign with his hometown club. As a Homegrown Player on a Major League Soccer contract, the 22-year-old winger could see his first MLS time this season. For now, he projects as one of the most important pieces in T2’s squad, returning to a team he made appearances for from 2015 through 2017.
Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Arizona, when T2 will face Phoenix Rising, we caught up with Bodily after training, asking him three questions about his world at the dawn of his first full professional season.
1. You think back to the life you had as a student. How much has that changed now that you’ve been able to get back home, leave school behind?
"It’s been a big change. Having my own place, now. Getting home from practice and not having school work to do. It gives me a lot of time to focus on what I’m here for, and that’s soccer. I’m focusing on getting better, making my body stronger, more flexible – all the little things that you don’t think about when you’re at school."
2. That feeds into my next question. Particularly at this time of year, at college, there are limits as to how much time you can actually be on the field. What is it like as a professional being able to devote as much time as you need to to your game?
"It’s a lot different. At school, we’re training two, maybe three times a week. Here, you’re out here everyday, and you’re also in the gym. It’s been a big change, but I like it. It’s definitely what I want to do, so I’m glad that I made the change."
3. You think about what’s coming this weekend. You’re going against the team that was the best in the USL’s regular season last year. First game is on the road. What’s going through your mind when you think about the challenge, not only the first game of the season but against really tough opponent?
"Yeah, Phoenix is going to be a good team, but I think we have a good game plan going into the game. The past two days, we’ve been working on what we need to do in order to exploit them in the best possible ways, and I think, as a collective group, we’ve really come together and bought into the idea of what we’re going to do. It will be a good game.
In the future, I think we’re going to have a good team this year. There are going to be a lot of new guys who came in, such as myself, who are going to make a huge impact. I think it will be a good year for us."