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Portland Timbers U23s Weekly Round-Up: Kitsap, Vancouver, and the NCAA

Here you can find out what is going on with the Timbers U23s including practice notes, quotes, news, and previews of just what is happening this week.

Timbers U23s Lose 3-1 to PSA Elite in Open Cup

5/15 - Despite a goal by USA U-20 player Eric Miller in his debut for the U23s, the Little Timbers were unable to find their way past amateur side PSA Elite in their first ever US Open Cup match last Tuesday. Despite out shooting PSA 26-15, the U23s had little luck with their finishing in what was a disappointing outcome for the team.

The write-up can be found here.

Sherrod Hat-trick Secures U23s Win Over Victoria

5/19 - The Timbers U23s bounced back from their US Open Cup loss to PSA Elite in a big way on Saturday with a 4-1 win over Victoria Highlanders FC, improving the team to 2-0 in league play. Midfielder Eric Miller scored first for the U23s, his second goal in two games with the team, before Mark Sherrod opened the floodgates and poured in three more, earning the hat-trick that eluded him in the season opener.

The write-up can be found here.

This Week

5/24 vs. Kitsap Pumas, Jeld-Wen Field, 11:00 a.m.

5/26 @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23, University of British Columbia, 2:00 p.m.

Practice notes and quotes, plus some info on just how NCAA eligibility rules come in to play with the Timbers U23s and other PDL sides, after the jump.

NCAA Ellgibility

With games against both Kitsap and Vancouver this week, the Timbers U23s will be coming up against two teams that follow very different models from the Timbers.

The Timbers U23s are a purely amateur side. Because none of their players are paid, they retain their eligibility to compete in NCAA competition but could not accept any first team players on loan. Timbers U23s players who are still in school (just about everyone but Cam Vickers) also cannot play in reserve games or exhibition games with the Timbers first team without losing their eligibility.

The Kitsap Pumas are a professional side. All of their players are paid and they make ready use of the USL PDL's overage player system, which allows for up to eight players over the age of 23 to be signed to a roster.

The Vancouver Whitecaps U23s are a mix of the two systems. While the Whitecaps are focused on youth and development, they draw from their academy system for players rather than college players, allowing them to mix amateur and professional players without worrying about eligibility issues. This allows the Whitecaps to loan players to their PDL team without reclassifying them as amateurs but restricts them from bringing in players that want to play in college in the future.

Practice Notes 5/23/12

  • The U23's practiced today at Jeld-Wen Field in preparation for their match-up against rivals Kitsap Pumas. With a number of players still in classes and unable to practice with the team, practice today was filled out with trialists and practice players, and even saw keepers coach Glenn Rogers play in net for an 11v11 scrimmage.
  • Eric Miller impressed me during warm-ups, the first time I have seen him train. He looked quick and agile, but what most impressed was his work ethic as he seemed to be willing to put in the effort no matter what he was doing.
  • Andrew Ribiero put in some good work holding possession in early practice keep-away drills. He showed those same skills again during the scrimmage later in practice where he lined up as a central midfielder.
  • During the scrimmage, defender Anthony Hobbs and attacking midfielder Stevie Evans were definitely the loudest voices out on the pitch and did well to direct their teammates.
  • Defenders Chris Harms and, to a lesser extent, Marc Tonkel both looked much more comfortable while possessing and distributing the ball than they did in the U23s' season opener.
  • Tonkel looked like a brick wall as several of the U23s' smaller players tried to get by him they would instead just bounce off of him, losing the ball in the process.
  • After practice concluded, I noticed Ribiero doing back flips out on the field. Back flips are awesome.


Jim Rilatt

On the Timbers U23s' rivaly with the Kitsap Pumas

We both came into the league at the same time. We had a good little run of trying to get into the open cup with them every year. We have a lot of respect for each other but some bad blood at times. They have a smaller but supportive group of people that are less mature than our group of people that help us, which we love very much.

It's a big game. It really is. We played against them last year twice and did pretty well, but we didn't get results, and they went on and won everything. We felt we were the better team but we let in bad goals and we didn't score goals when we had our chances. It's a good one to get off the plate now and hopefully get a result.

On facing a consistantly good team like Kitsap

They'll be better prepared than most, although Victoria has their players in long than we have. They'll be more mature, because they are older. They get paid, that doesn't necessarily everybody warrents getting paid, but they get paid.

Some of our players understand the history and the rivalry. Some of them don't know anything; they're probably scartching their heads, saying, where's Kitsap? Where is it on the map? They'll find out tomorrow. This is a big game for Kitsap, especially here at Jeld-Wen.

As everybody tries to carve out a career I think that these kids, our guys, are starting to appreciate that it is hard to get out on the field now. It is very difficult so they ant to stay on the field, so they will play well. We had a really good training session today. I can't say that that always happens before a Kitsap game. We had a good day today so I have high hopes for tomorrow.

On the progress the team has made since the start of the season

I think we're further along at this stage than we ever made it last year. That's partially due to the quality of the kids that are here and the mentality that they've brought to the table. We have a few boys that are leaders, both vocally and through example, and we have some humility in the group and that is getting people to listen and apply. We had a great training session today and we looked like a team that had been together for more than three games.

On if the U23s attend Timbers matches

I hope they do,because taht is part of the experience. They are smart. They get them to do things like hand out fliers and so they get in and the kids are smart and want to get into the game. I saw a few of them at the game on Sunday and you could tell everybody is buzzed to see that environment live. Even for me, walking out and hearing the Army above you, even when I am starting to get to know the songs, it is still a cool thing.

You've got kids that have never been there before and watching them a little bit on Sunday was part of the benefit of doing this. They were pretty excited to be wearing their gear up there. They're college kids but they still get silly.

Chris Harms

On the rivalry with Kitsap

This has been kind of the grudge match of the Northwest division for a couple of years. It's usually very physical, very hard fought. A lot of hard tackles type of game for us, so obviously it is one you want to win. It's important to us to beat Kitsap.

I think that over the last couple of years their level of competition has been better than the Whitecaps and Sounders (Tacoma Tide). They've been a tougher opponent for us. It has been a little bit more even than playing the Whitecaps over the years and last year they won the national championship. The year before that we beat them in the playoffs. It has been back and forth. I think their level of success has dictated the rivalry.

On how the team is coming together

Surprisingly, pretty well. Good players starting playing well together pretty fast I think, It starts with Jim and Rod and the coaches; we kind of just do what they say and it works. We trust what they do and we are all good players and we are all here to better ourselves and win. It comes a lot quicker than you think.