BEAVERTON, Ore. — It might be several weeks before Vytautas Andriuskevicius debuts for the Portland Timbers. Wednesday’s first training session with the Timbers was essentially the start of preseason for the Lithuanian left back.
But the 25-year-old — who goes simply by Vytas — made a strong impression during his introduction to local media at the club’s training facility.
“I can talk forever,” he said after answering questions for six minutes.
Whether or not Vytas is the answer at left back for Portland might take a while to determine. Timbers coach Caleb Porter said Wednesday that the team will be smart about integrating Vytas into the lineup. The Timbers, who are seeking to fill the role that Jorge Villafana played for last season’s MLS Cup champions, signed Vytas on July 14.
“I don’t want to put a time frame on it, but he’s definitely not ready right now to play,” Porter said. “Will it be a week, two, three weeks? It just depends on our sports science and obviously training and how he adapts. But he has a good base fitness. He’s a naturally fit guy.”
Porter compared Vytas’ skill set to that of Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey.
“Left-footed, tough, good in the air,” Porter said, describing Vytas as a defense-first left back who can get forward to deliver crosses.
“He’s not a tricky dribbler where he’s going to go one-v-one, but he’s going to definitely have the range to get around [the field],” Porter said. “He can serve the ball. He’s very well-rounded and balanced as a player.”
His 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame makes Vytas an asset on set pieces, too, according to Porter.
Having played professionally in Poland, Sweden and the Netherlands, Vytas speaks multiple languages. He said he first learned English when playing in Poland from 2010 to 2013.
Vytas said he did not pay attention to Major League Soccer until the opportunity to come to Portland developed, but he is excited about the opportunity.
“The league is getting better every year and everybody knows this, so why not? I like new challenges and I’m not afraid of anything,” Vytas said.
Vytas first visited Portland during the Timbers US Open Cup loss to the Galaxy on June 29, and was in Providence Park for Sunday’s 3-1 win over Seattle.
His goal is to be useful for Porter and the Timbers – and soon. From his experience moving to new teams in Poland, Sweden and the Netherlands, Vytas said it will not take long to develop chemistry on the field.
“I don’t need much time to adapt,” he said. “I know in one week I will be cool with everybody and I will be focused just on football.”