LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Mark Sherrod would love to play for the Portland Timbers. Ask him, and he'll tell you as much.
"I really love the city, and I love the coaches, and I love the whole team atmosphere up there," said the big target striker, who spent two summers playing for the Timbers U-23s in the USL PDL and is plenty familiar with the scene in the Rose City. "As far as hearing anything, not yet."
But he's hoping to: "Oh yeah, that'd be fantastic."
Sherrod, who started and played the first half of team Predator's 4-1 win over NitroCharge in Friday's opening day of the MLS Combine, scored 19 goals as a sophomore at the University of Memphis, making him a marked man and reportedly drawing Generation adidas interest. But his production trailed off the following two years with the extra attention, and as a result he had to dedicate himself to learning some of the finer points of the game.
"That's something I kind of worked on over the break a little bit, just to try to kind of maybe find new tools, or something like that, to try to showcase here," said Sherrod, who showed an ability to beat defenders off the dribble and create chances with his feet, as well as clever off-the-ball movement to open up space on his team's first goal.
"I just wish we could have got a goal out of it. That would have been nice."
The Timbers U-23s produced a pair of first round SuperDraft picks last year in Erik Hurtado (Vancouver) and Emery Welshman (Toronto). Sherrod, who is projected to go anywhere from the early second round to the tail end of the third round, will probably have to wait a little bit longer than that to hear his name called.
He's OK with the wait, and is determined to make sure whichever team does take the plunge gets a guy who does the dirty work, but also has some subtlety to his game.
"I'd love to eventually get there, to where I'm not just so one dimensional," he offered. "I want to hold the ball up, but I want to be able to do what I did earlier [Friday] – take players on. I think I'll get there in time."
Even without a goal or an assist, it was still a very nice day for the native of Knoxville, Tenn. He was particularly solid in battling Steve Birnbaum and Christian Dean – considered by many the top two picks in the draft – inside the 18, and for long balls out of the back.
Even with the new skills, being that target forward is still job No. 1.
"It's the only position I've ever played," Sherrod said. "Our [Timbers U-23s coach] Jim Rilatt had a huge influence. He always said, 'It's very, very easy to mark someone if they're standing still.'
"So you've got to keep moving."
Maybe all the way to Portland.