Timbers U-23s to play at Doc Harris Stadium

Portland's potential on field in Camas

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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Fans might catch a glimpse of the Portland Timbers' future on Friday in Camas.

Akron University products David Meves and Bryan Gallego are among the key players for the Timbers under-23 team that takes on Washington Crossfire at 7 p.m. at Doc Harris Stadium.

On a team that features players from colleges around the country, the goalkeeper Meves and defender Gallego are two who played for Timbers coach Caleb Porter in college.

The Timbers selected Meves in the MLS Supplemental Draft, but with Donovan Ricketts, Milos Kocic and Jake Gleeson on the Timbers roster, goalkeeper is a crowded position. With only four goals allowed through nine games, Meves has the best goals-against average in the PDL.

Entering his junior season at Akron, Gallego is a Timbers homegrown prospect — thanks to a December trade with the New York Red Bulls — meaning that Portland will have the first chance to sign the defender once his college career ends.

The engine of the Timbers U-23s is Creighton midfielder Zach Barnes. The Texan has played every minute so far this season.

Camas High School graduate Nick Palodichuk, who played in seven U-23s games this season, has returned to Duke University to take a summer school class. Other notable players who will be missing tonight are forward Mark Sherrod (concussion) and defender Eric Miller. Miller was a member of the United States team that on Thursday was eliminated from the Under-20 World Cup tournament.

Coach Jim Rilatt said that one of his challenges this season has been rotating lineups to get all 26 players on the roster meaningful action while at the same time seeking enough continuity to compete for first place in the Northwest Division of the Premier Development League.

The Timbers U-23s enter Friday's game with six wins, two ties and one loss. They are second in their division, two points behind Victoria Highlanders FC. Portland is 4-0 in home games. Its only loss was 1-0 to Redmond-based Crossfire (2-5-1).

Rilatt's deep roster will be tested this weekend. Friday's game in Camas is the first of three in as many days, thanks to a recently added Saturday match against the Martinique national team. The U-23s play division-leaders Victoria at noon on Sunday in Hillsboro, Ore. The Martinique national team is in Portland preparing for the Gold Cup tournament. Saturday's friendly will be played at Buckman Field at Northeast 12th and Everett in Portland. It is open to the public.

Rilatt said he has implemented a system similar to that used by Caleb Porter for the MLS Timbers, which means there is an emphasis on dictating the tempo of play with possession and on playing as much as possible in the opponent's half of the field. He said teaching a new system to players from colleges around the country is "not as difficult as it would seem" because all of the players have extensive experience playing at a high level.