The Portland Timbers footprint in Southwest Washington became more defined last week with the announcement that Vancouver United Timbers will become one of three youth soccer clubs affiliated with the MLS franchise through its Adidas Timbers Alliance partnership.
As part of the alliance, the Major League Soccer club will share coaching resources and curriculum with alliance clubs in the development of both boys and girls.
“We’re proud to be a part of it,” Vancouver United president David Hughes said.
Vancouver United, Eastside United of Gresham and Westside Metros of Beaverton will be alliance clubs. Each will wear red and white uniforms and go by the names Vancouver Timbers, Eastside Timbers and Westside Timbers.
“Each of these clubs shares a passion and a vision for developing youth players and providing elite opportunities for youth,” Timbers Academy director Mike Smith said. “These clubs are excellent community ambassadors for the sport and excel at player development.”
Vancouver Timbers is one of several youth soccer clubs in Southwest Washington that fields advanced-competition teams formed through tryouts.
Youth clubs in the Adidas Timbers Alliance will be allowed to use the Portland Timbers brand on their club websites. The advanced competition teams will wear a special Adidas Timbers Alliance badge as part of the uniform.
“While a partner with the Timbers, the Adidas Timbers Alliance clubs will continue to maintain their own identities and will continue to be leaders, both on and off the field, within their own communities,” Smith said.
Vancouver Timbers coaching director Sunny Dulai said becoming allied with the Portland Timbers will help the youth soccer club in its mission to develop high-level players and coaches. In addition to branding, the partnership will include appearances by Timbers players at several fundraising events. Coaching symposiums, and the opportunity to host the Timbers under-23 team for training sessions, are other parts of the agreement, Hughes said.
“That enables our players to look at what is the next level,” Hughes said.
The name change is not a drastic one for the Vancouver club, which has been using the Timbers nickname for at least a decade. Columbia Premier Soccer Club started calling its teams Columbia Timbers shortly after the Portland Timbers were established in 2001 as a professional second-division club. Several years ago CPSC became the advanced competition club for the Vancouver United Soccer Alliance.
There are about 600 advanced competition players with the club, and more than 1,000 recreation-level players, Hughes said. Recreation teams will maintain their own nicknames, but will get discounts on Adidas uniforms, according to Hughes.
Hughes said the Portland Timbers approached his club in the fall, and that serious discussions about the alliance started in December.
The Adidas Timbers Alliance is part of the MLS team’s strategy for developing local talent. The Portland Timbers will open a Timbers Academy this fall by organizing boys teams in the under-18 and under-16 age groups. Those teams will play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy league and in the Generation Adidas Cup tournament.
In late summer or early fall, players from across the Timbers development territory not just those who play for an Adidas Timbers Alliance club will be able to try out for an Timbers Academy team or a place in one of the teams Regional Training Centers. One of the six Timbers regional training centers is in Vancouver.
In announcing the Adidas Timbers Alliance clubs, the MLS team also said it has future plans to form an elite girls division as part of the Oregon’s ODP program and the club’s academy structure.