Blake Bodily represents all the hope and potential of the young Timbers Academy. No pressure kid.
In all seriousness though Blake Bodily is a Timbers Academy product who is currently leading the way for future academy products as the organization develops its youth program and tries to attract the top young talent in its territory and beyond.
He first came onto the scene, for the 95% of us who don't follow the academy closely or at all, when he debuted for T2 in 2015. At 17, he was the first sign that we did in fact have an academy. And with this new Portland Timbers 2 USL team, a place where some of the top academy talent could go and get some development in a professional environment. And in his debut I remember saying "he doesn't look out of place". A few games under his belt later he looked quite comfortable at the USL PRO level and started to make a claim for his left mid/left wing spot on the field. Outside of my own personal fandom and hope that he would score a goal, 2015 was mostly a season of "hey, we got this academy player, he looks comfortable out there, even occasionally looking pretty good, I wonder whats in his future".
In 2016, he missed the first part of the season with an injury. But there was at least a summers worth of games to see if he could improve over 2015. And improve he did. He looked really sharp when T2 played in his home state of Idaho in early June. And he followed that up 10 days later when he scored his first professional goal in a 2-1 loss to S2 at Providence Park. And getting your first goal at Providence Park against a team from the north; it will never be forgotten. In that Seattle game, Blake Bodily was one of the best players on the pitch. Particularly in a listless first half from the team, he was one of the only players who showed hunger and drive, and in the second half drove the team with his energy and his first pro goal was his reward. Since then, he has tallied two more goals and an assist. And multiple times has put in performances that are really near Man of the Match level if not outright the Man of the Match. There could certainly be an argument made that, had Blake not been subbed off vs S2 on Monday night the result might have been different. As he once again, put in a very impressive performance.
84' T2 Sub: Polk on, Bodily off. Blake with another top notch match & representing just how far along academy is coming— Stumptown Footy - T2 (@SFTimbers2) August 30, 2016
But why was he playing with T2 on Monday night when the college soccer season already began? It was pointed out to me last week that Blake was nowhere to be found on the University of Washington Men's Soccer roster. And their season had started last Friday. So where was Blake Bodily? Certainly if he had signed with the organization, there would be great fanfare to sign the first player developed from the new academy program.
Thanks to a family member of Blake's I found out that he has decided to take a gap year.
@SFTimbers2— Susan Bodily (@suebbodily) August 30, 2016
Blake is taking a gap year to stay with T2
Which is pretty exciting for us as fans. Here is a top academy product choosing to stick around with T2 for the rest of this season and likely most of next season before finally moving on to college. And this should speak volumes to both the player and the organization. For Blake, this choice reflects a likely opinion that he can develop as a soccer player better with T2 than at college. And for the organization it reflects well upon them that an academy product would delay higher education for an additional year to stick around and continue to develop in what he must feel is a quality developmental environment.
It's exciting that Bodily is really coming into form & choosing to develop w/ T2 for a little while longer.— Stumptown Footy - T2 (@SFTimbers2) August 30, 2016
And so, we shall continue to see Blake Bodily in the final five matches for T2 this season and a good portion of the games next season. He has taken significant strides this season and no longer looks just "comfortable" out there, but now is even beginning to look like he can boss around at this USL level. I definitely feel like Blake has the potential to make it at the MLS level. He still needs more time to develop, but he has definitely reached 'USL level'. Where he definitely has what it takes to succeed at this first professional stage. If he continues to develop as he has been, which hopefully he does with his choice to stick with T2 (particularly at such a crucial age for development), then MLS is absolutely within reach. And beyond that? Well, it's difficult to say this early, but the saying is always "the sky is the limit"