The Portland Timbers Academy teams are ready to kick off their season with matches against last season's top team in the USSDA Western Confernce, the De Anza Force, on Saturday and another pair of matches against the Santa Cruz Breakers on Sunday. Coming off a series of preseason scrimmages, the U-16s and U-18s are ready to start the Academy's second season.
On the U-18s this season there will be a number of names familiar to Timbers fans. Thanks in part to the Timbers' recent injury issues, players like Niko De Vera, Jesse Garcia-Aguilar, Jacob Kempf, Alejando Segovia, Foster Langsdorf, and Anthony Macchione have made appearances at practice and in reserve games with the Timbers' first team. Macchione in particular has been a regular bench player with the Timbers reserves for the last two years and even scored the Timbers' lone goal in last Sunday's reserves match against Real Salt Lake.
With a few exceptions, like Langsdorf and Macchione, this year's group of U-18s are newly promoted U-16s players with 18 having made the jump over the offseason. The lone newcomer to the academy this year is Nick Ballenger, a defender who tallied five goals and three assists with West-Salem in the 2012 season and was selected to the All-Central Valley Conference First Team.
With nearly the entire roster having moved up to the U-18s, the U-16s are starting fresh this season. Reed Baez, who made several appearances in training with the Timbers over the course of this season, is one of the few holdovers from the 2012-13 season. The new recruits on the U-16s hail primarily from Oregon and Washington with one exception, Nai'a Graham's hometown is listed as Kaneohe, Hawaii. Among the new U-16s is Nick Evans, younger brother of current Timbers homegrown player Steven Evans.
The Timbers Academy teams will open their season at home next Saturday, September 21st, with matches against the Chivas USA Academy teams at the Timbers' Beaverton training facility.