A Portland Timbers fan since the club’s USL days, 15-year-old Alan Gaytan has been watching games at Providence Park for years.
On Sunday, he could take a solid first step towards achieving his dream of suiting up for the Timbers at their home ground.
Gaytan, a forward from Troutdale, Oregon, was named one of three finalists for Sueño MLS 2016 last weekend. He’ll find out if he won the national talent competition – and netted the MLS academy invite that comes with the title – live on Univision Deportes’ Republica Deportiva on Sunday afternoon (3 pm ET).
“It’s actually pretty big and pretty exciting for me, because I grew up here in Portland, watching the Timbers,” he said.
Gaytan, who called Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri his two favorite Timbers, excelled in Sueño, impressing Timbers academy coaches to advance from the initial Portland tryouts in April. A quick player who prefers to play on the right wing and cut in on his favored left foot, Gaytan stood out again at the national finals in Los Angeles earlier this month, scoring twice and recording a pair of assists in the Sueño team’s two scrimmages against LA Galaxy-affiliated squads.
For Gaytan, winning the Sueño title on Sunday would be a huge thrill. Regardless of whether or not he beats out Carlos Amaya and Arturo Ernand for the honor, however, he’s certainly impressed some Timbers scouts during the process.
Former Timbers defender and current academy coach Ryan Miller told MLSsoccer.com after the initial Portland tryout in April that he believes “there will be a spot found for [Gaytan] whether he wins the final or not,” while Timbers academy director Larry Sunderland said the attacker was “the one difference-maker” at both days of the Portland tryout.
He’s even been invited to train with Portland’s academy since returning from the LA tryouts, and could land a formal invite to join the Timbers – who are one of just two teams in MLS, along with second-year side New York City FC, without an academy product currently in the league – no matter what happens on Sunday.
Gaytan might get his happy ending regardless of Sunday’s results, but make no mistake – he wants the Sueño title.
“It’d mean a lot to me because of all the sacrifices my family has made and all the support I’ve been given,” he said. “It’d be pretty huge for me, to at least be able to give back to them by winning that.”