Timbers U-23s prepare to open season with U.S. Open Cup match against Sacramento
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers U-23s kick off the 2013 campaign Tuesday evening at JELD-WEN Field as they play host to the Sacramento Gold of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in the first round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (Pacific).
Tickets, priced at $10, are available for purchase through the JELD-WEN Field box office and online at www.portlandtimbers.com.
The Timbers U-23s are one of 16 teams from United Soccer Leagues’ Premier Development League (PDL) competing in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup. The team qualified for the tournament based upon their second-place finish in the PDL’s Northwest Division in 2012.
The Timbers U-23s make their second appearance in the U.S. Open Cup this year, getting their first taste of the tournament in 2012. With the tournament fixture as the team’s first competitive action of 2013, head coach Jim Rilatt hopes to utilize this opportunity to help his players grow as a team.
“Our goal this year is to use the game to prepare ourselves for hopefully another U.S. Open Cup game and to get the players together and start to mold a cohesive group,” said Rilatt.
The team returns seven players from their 2012 roster, including defender Anthony Hobbs, who featured for the Timbers U-23s in last year’s first-round U.S. Open Cup match against PSA Elite.
“(Last year) was a good experience; we had the opportunity to play in the next round against professional teams, and MLS teams if you have a dream run,” said Hobbs. “Hopefully this year we get to experience the second round.”
A win for the Timbers U-23s on Tuesday evening would earn them a second-round matchup with the Charleston Battery of USL PRO at JELD-WEN Field on May 21.
A majority of the Timbers U-23s 2013 roster will arrive in Portland to join the team Monday, as players finish classes at their respective colleges. Despite the short preparation time, Rilatt feels that the talent the team possesses will help get them through the tight schedule.
“We have quite a few faces coming in that are from colleges with higher pedigrees than we’ve ever had before,” Rilatt said. “There are a lot of upcoming games in a two week period, but when everybody arrives, we may have the depth to be able to manage those minutes better than we have ever had in the past.”
“Hopefully we can gel together pretty quick and get past the first game,” Hobbs said. “The longer we spend together the better we are going to get. Hopefully get past this game, improve for the next game and keep improving.”
The Timbers U-23s open their 2013 PDL season Thursday against the Seattle Sounders U-23s at JELD-WEN Field.