While it is still a little early to truly put together a ranking system of potential Homegrown Players for the Portland Timbers, especially with the academy having only wrapped up its second season, it is completely appropriate to start tossing out a few names for the future.
Once the 2014 college season kicks off, this list will hopefully get cut down to a standard ten players to keep an eye on.
Niko De Vera – Likely destined to play out wide on the Akron backline, De Vera will compete for playing time from the get-go, according to College Soccer News. Returning defensive players sprinkle the Akron roster, which should give De Vera a chance to learn from upperclassmen. De Vera netted three goals this past season for the U-18 Timbers and has experience with the Timbers reserve side, making him one of the only defenders from the academy to earn such experience.
Jesse Garcia-Aguilar – After a five-goal performance with the U-16s, Garcia-Aguilar netted four more with the U-18s in 2013-14. Expected to compete for minutes right away at Akron, Garcia-Aguilar will look to help replace 2013 Akron scoring after the Zips lost five of its top six goal scorers from a season ago. Garcia-Aguilar started in the US Open Cup for the Timbers U-23s against Arizona United SC and played the full 90, while also delivering an assist on the opening goal of the match as he delivered a free kick into the box, which was headed in by Clemson’s Kyle Fisher
Foster Langsdorf – One of two Timbers Academy players headed to The Farm as part of a very strong recruiting class at Stanford, Langsdorf was the 2013 Timbers Academy Player of the Year. Having seen time with the Timbers reserve side, including in a friendly against Morelia, Langsdorf scored six goals for the U-18s in the 2013-14 season. College Soccer News sees Langsdorf as a player with potential to earn minutes for Stanford in a midfield that has openings. Stanford lost holding midfielder JJ Koval to graduation, and with Langsdorf referenced by Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn as a "midfield general" who "marshals players around him with a maturity beyond his years", a holding mid role may await Langsdorf in Palo Alto. Langsdorf joined Garcia-Aguilar in the Timbers U-23s starting 11 against Arizona United SC in the US Open Cup.
Anthony Macchione – A member of the academy for two seasons with MLS Reserve League and Timbers U-23 experience, Macchione heads to Akron as the No. 96 player in the class of 2014 by O When The Yanks. Macchione is among the leaders in the Western Conference in goals, having put in 17 during the 2013-14 season with the U-18s. Like Garcia-Aguilar, Macchione should have an opportunity to battle for minutes at Akron with openings in the starting 11 and on the bench available to be filled.
Alex Segovia – A Timbers Army scholarship recipient to participate in the US Residency Program, Segovia heads to Oregon State with experience in the Timbers Academy and with the U-17 US National Team. With the Beavers top scorer returning to Corvallis, Segovia will have an opportunity to lean on Khiry Shelton in his first season of collegiate soccer and learn from the senior. Oregon State has not had a single player dominate the offensive stat sheet since Danny Mwanga left campus, allowing for players like Segovia to grab a role if they wish to do so. Segovia should be given a chance to earn a major role with the Beavers this season.
Sam Werner – A native of Montana, Werner is set to begin his collegiate career at Stanford in the fall of 2014. Werner joins the Cardinal after two seasons with the U-18 team, the second of which saw him net seven goals in 27 matches and 16 starts. College Soccer News, as with Langsdorf, expects Werner to snag minutes in the Stanford midfield during his first season on The Farm. Werner, who once trialed with the Stoke City academy, will look to earn a spot on the wings of the Stanford midfield, which has a few openings after departures due to graduation and HGP signings a year ago.
ACADEMY EYE OPENERS
Reid Baez – Shuffling between the U-16 and U-18 sides in 2013-14, Baez made an impact on both sides. Baez netted five goals at the U-16 level and four with the U-18 team, including one in a playoff victory over the Charlotte Soccer Academy. Baez, who should play fulltime for the U-18s starting in the fall, is rated by Top Drawer Soccer as the No. 44 midfielder in the class of 2015. The No. 6 rated player in the Pacific Northwest, Top Drawer Soccer also sees Baez as the No. 141 player nationally in the class of 2015. College Soccer News put the Salem-native at No. 96 on its list of top players in the class of 2015.
Jose Benavides – Ranked by Top Drawer Soccer and O When The Yanks, Benavides wrapped up his first year with the Timbers U-16s in 2014. Benavides started 24 matches and played in 27, while putting together a shots on goal percentage of 80.0. Top Drawer Soccer places Benavides at No. 147 in the class of 2016 and No. 67 at his position nationally. Closer to home, Benavides is rated by Top Drawer Soccer as the No. 2 prospect in the Pacific Northwest. O When The Yanks put Benavides at No. 60 nationally for the class of 2016. Benavides will likely bump up to the U-18s next season.
Nick Evans – The solo leader in goals for the Timbers’ U-16 side with eight, Evans played in 24 matches and started 16 in his first year with the academy team. The midfielder will push up to the U-18s in the 2014-15 season and is currently rated as the No. 5 player in the Pacific Northwest class of 2016 by Top Drawer Soccer.
Peter Prescott – A center back, verbally committed to Creighton (fall 2015), Prescott scored six goals in his first season with the U-18s. Prescott started every match this season for the Saplings and aided the team in keeping a goal differential of +19. Prescott has 11 goals in his academy career, including six goals in his first season with the U-18s. Rated by Top Drawer Soccer as the No. 149 player in the class of 2015, the same publication rates Prescott as the No. 35 defender in his class and No. 7 player in the Pacific Northwest. Prescott will get another year of seasoning with the U-18s before heading to Omaha in the fall of 2015.
Adrian Villegas – Just a 14-year-old, traveled to Germany with the adidas Timbers Alliance team to compete in the FC Bayern Youth Cup in May. The 7v7 tournament saw the Timbers Alliance side play teams from India, Thailand, Austria and Japan to eventually earn a third place finish. Villegas, a midfielder, is rated by Top Drawer Soccer as the No. 2 player in the Pacific Northwest Class of 2018. Villegas played in three matches for the Timbers U-16s, starting two in the Academy Showcase. In the Academy Showcase, Villegas scored his first academy goal with a spot kick against Virginia Rush. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if Villegas is a fulltime member of the U-16s in the fall.
STILL ON THE RADAR?
Christian Desir – The rising-sophomore at Clark College tied for the team lead in goals for the Timbers U-18s during the first year of the academy with 11 on the year. Desir notched 12 goals and 11 assists in his first year with Clark College and was named a NWAACC All-Star. Community college stars are not seeing MLS sides line up to sign them to HGP contracts, so it’ll be interesting to see where Desir winds up after his two-year eligibility is up at Clark. Assuming he is still on the Timbers’ radar, Desir could be worth keeping an eye on if he lands with a Division I program and makes an impact at that level.
James Nosack – A midfielder at Washington, Nosack served time as a reserve for the loaded Huskies in 2013. Tied for the team lead with Desir in goals for the 2012-13 Timbers U-18s, this season will likely be telling for Nosack in Seattle. The Washington midfield is crowded, with Cristian Roldan and James Moberg returning after all-conference seasons a year ago.