Nick Palodichuk would like to be at Doc Harris Stadium on Friday, revisiting the field where he played high school soccer for the Camas Papermakers.
Instead, he is focused on his future.
After playing seven games in May and June with the Portland Timbers under-23 team, the Clark County native this week returned to Durham, N.C., to take a summer school class and prepare for his junior season for the Duke Blue Devils. So Palodichuk won't be in Camas at 7 p.m. Friday when the Timbers U-23s take on Washington Crossfire.
After he played in all 22 of Duke's matches during a promising freshman season, when he had eight goals and six assists, Palodichuk's college soccer career hit the pause button.
A training injury required surgery on Palodichuk's right ankle in the spring of 2012. Lingering trouble from the ankle limited his effectiveness last season, when he played in only 10 matches and scored two goals.
Another surgery this spring to clean up the ankle has alleviated the swelling that Palodichuk experienced last fall. The ankle feels good, which was one reason he chose to spend some time with the Timbers U-23s.
And, even though he is leaving at mid-season for summer school, Palodichuk said his time with the Timbers developmental squad helped him get back onto his soccer footing.
"I definitely got a lot out of it," he said, noting that the Timbers have top-flight college players on their U-23 roster and that training in a professional atmosphere under coach Jim Rilatt and staff pushed him every day.
"It really helped with playing at game speed," Palodichuk said. "It was great to start doing that again."
Rilatt said he signed Palodichuk knowing the player would be departing in late June.
Probably because of time lost to injuries, Rilatt said that Palodichuk's play was more inconsistent than it was two summers ago, when he played for the Timbers U-23s before heading to Duke.
But he still contributed.
"We will definitely miss Nick," Rilatt said. "He did a good job when he was here. He impacted the games he was in."
In high school, in addition to helping Camas win a state championship, Palodichuk played for the Seattle Sounders Academy. That was before Portland had a Major League Soccer team or an Academy program.
He spent last summer in Durham rehabilitating his ankle, so Palodichuk said he chose to play for a couple of months this spring with the Timbers U-23s -- instead of the Sounders under-23 team -- so he could spend time with his family.
A summer class in his political science major starts on July 1. Palodichuk said he intends to complete studies to graduate ahead of his senior soccer season in fall 2014.
He said he still has significant ground to cover to reach game shape before the Duke season starts. He said he will use the rest of summer to train with Duke teammates and training staff while taking a class titled "Peace and War."
Still, he wishes he could have stayed for at least one more match with the Timbers U-23s.
"It would have been nice to have the chance to play again in front of that community that supported me," Palodichuk said.