Spencer barks out orders to the Timbers
Courtesy of Portland Timbers Communications

Timbers take weekend off, play Oregon State

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Timbers will travel 85 miles south to Corvallis on Saturday for a training game on the campus of Oregon State University.

By doing so, the team will rekindle a long-standing relationship with the state's only Pac-10 men's soccer program and give fans in the mid-Willamette Valley a chance to see the MLS side in person.

The Oregon State program produced 2010's No. 1 overall draft choice Danny Mwanga (of the Philadelphia Union) and also had a handful of players on the Timbers’ U-23 PDL roster last year. The D-2 version of the Timbers played an exhibition game at Oregon State last spring.

“This is so massive for my young team,” Oregon State coach Steve Simmons said. “It will be eye-opening. Hopefully the Timbers get something out of the game as they get ready for the home opener. We’re all excited about it.”

The Timbers’ home opener is April 14 against the Chicago Fire. In order to keep some game rhythm and fitness during a two-week break between games, the team is going to take on the college kids on Saturday at 6 pm PT.

[inline_node:333166]“I want to see good performances from guys who haven’t played recently,” Timbers coach John Spencer said. “We’re putting on the uniform. I expect us to win. I doesn’t matter who we play; the mentality has to always be to win the game.”

When Oregon State added men’s soccer in the late 1980s, the first coach was popular former NASL Timbers player Jimmy Conway. Saturday’s game sprang from a conversation between Simmons and Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson months ago about maintaining a relationship in the wake of last spring’s meeting.

“Obviously it’s much different this time because of the nature of the place the Timbers are at now,” Simmons said.

Simmons is also a season-ticket holder who, like many other soccer fans in Oregon, is anxious for the first Timbers home game. Oregon State is two weeks into its spring season.

“We want to get as much out of it as we can,” Simmons said. “We’ll be playing against the highest level that there is in the country. My guys can talk about what that means but once they experience it for themselves, they’ll know. I think it will be so valuable. We’re also soccer fans, and the Timbers are our team.”