Here is the first installment of my Portland Timbers Academy blogs as the season begins to wind down and the transition to Caleb Porter takes shape.
Some introductory facts that you may or may not already know:
The Academy teams (U-16/18) will continue to play tournaments and head to head competitions running all the way through to June of next year; home games are currently played at the PTFC training facility.
Here is a link about who Portland Timbers Academy coaches are: http://www.portlandtimbers.com/timbers-academy-coaching-staff.
Players on the U-16 team can be seen by clicking on this link: http://www.portlandtimbers.com/2012-13-portland-timbers-u-16-academy-roster
Players on the U-18 team can be seen by clicking on this link: http://www.portlandtimbers.com/2012-13-portland-timbers-u-18-academy-roster.
During my initial visit to a recent training session I was able to meet and chat with Mike Smith, John Bain, and Adam Smith. Here are some of my take-away’s for your consideration:
a. With the change in Head Coach (Caleb Porter) coming in December it is anticipated that the philosophy of how the first team plays (system and formation) will carry on directly down through to the Reserves, U-23’s, U-18’s, and U-16’s.
b. Timing for that transition remains unclear but that model/approach is pretty much standard for all professional soccer organizations.
c. In the mean time the coaching staff continue to develop and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the players. Balancing who plays where and when remains the focus as the teams continue to develop.
d. Training, for each team, is usually held three times a week; for about 1.5 hours each.
e. In speaking with John Bain (U-18 Assistant Coach) about ‘chalkboard training’ this is what he had to offer: ‘ U-16’s/18’s have and will continue to have ‘chalk-talk’. John also indicated that chalk-talk work begins with players at Westside Timbers Soccer Club around the U-12 level; although skill development is still the most important at the younger age.
f. In watching the first few games what stands out to me more than anything at this time is how fast and furious the lads play; and having games on a smaller pitch really helps the players learn about stress and controlled ball possession.
g. John Bain also confirmed that 3 players; Anthony Macchione, Christian Desir and Mitch North have all dressed for a Timbers Reserve match and come off the bench to play in games. Abdiel Morfin (Def) and Brian (Antony) Gonzalez (Mid)have dressed for reserve matches but did not get into the game.
h. Both Anthony and Christian primarily play as forwards while Mitch is a goal keeper. So a ‘pipeline’ of sorts is already starting to occur within the Academy. If you follow European soccer this has been a long standing tradition for many clubs. As time passes and the Academy matures I would imagine even more players will be afforded that opportunity.
i. There are four youth soccer clubs that are associated with PTFC (Portland Timbers Alliance):
1) Westside Timbers http://www.westsidetimbers.org/home.php
2) Eastside United FC http://www.esufc.com/
3) Rogue Valley Timbers: http://www.rvsoccer.com/home.php
4) Vancouver United Timbers: http://www.vusatimbers.com/
A number of PTFC staff are directly or indirectly involved with this youth soccer clubs.
j. Here are some questions (with paraphrased answers) that I posed to John Bain earlier this week that may be of interest/have value to players and/or parents:
1. On commitment to local training and development for the players - John Bain - 'Classic soccer teams practice year round 2 x per week and games on weekends. Top classic Premier teams may at times practice 3 times per week'.
2. On Travel - distance/frequency - John Bain - 'Most teams stay local playing in leagues and local tournaments. Top clubs that have Premier level teams travel out of State to get strong competition. Players that make the State team also travel to other States for games/tournament play.'
3. On Cost - John Bain - 'Recreation Soccer estimated at $100 for fall season; Classic soccer between $800-$1400 depending on club. Fees normally include league fees, Cup fees, local club tournaments plus coaches and field fees. Check with your local youth soccer club to determine costs in your area.
4. On 'growth spurts and rest for players' - John Bain - 'Most classic clubs have breaks between seasons'.
In closing, some final thoughts:
I will continue to provide updates on Portland Timber’s Academy activities this off-season. With games occurring every other week (about once a month at home) — (on Saturday’s and Sunday’s) I will do my best to offer up some post-match analysis on home games and gather/relay thoughts about away games from the coaching staff.
What remains clear to me is that Portland Timbers FC is not just about running, playing, and being a professional soccer club; it’s also about promoting and devoting real time to help youth, at all age levels, get better at soccer.
You can follow me on twitter at: https://twitter.com/ChrisGluckPTFC