While the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders shared points in Sunday’s derby, supporters of the away side were just as busy off the field investing in future success via youth development in Cascadia.
Just days before kickoff of the biggest rivalry in MLS, Portland Timbers General Manager Gavin Wilkinson and Portland Timbers defender Marco Farfan joined Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis and Eastside Timbers Executive President Butch Pollard at a groundbreaking ceremony for the youth club’s new soccer complex in the Rose City’s Eastside suburbs.
Eastside Timbers plans for the complex include 3 lighted turf fields, a clubhouse with multiple futsal courts, a physical therapy clinic, restaurant, gym and more. The outdoor fields are on schedule to be completed by the end of 2017, and the clubhouse is on track to be completed in the first half of 2018.
Eastside Timbers is one of seven competitive youth clubs formally affiliated with the Portland Timbers, and the first to have its own wholly owned fields and facility. This comes as no surprise to Wilkinson, who founded the youth club back in 2001 (while a player of the then USL Timbers) and helped map out the vision that is coming to fruition in this new facility.
“This marks an exciting moment for the club and the soccer community,” said Wilkinson. “Eastside Timbers is taking another step forward by building a first-class complex, and this state-of-the-art complex will be well-utilized by youth clubs and the community at large for many years to come”.
The presence of Wilkinson and Farfan at the event was not simply an exercise in public relations, but rather living proof of the successful cultivation of Eastside’s competitive youth program that Wilkinson created to identify and develop players of Farfan’s caliber.
Farfan grew up playing in an Eastside Timbers shirt, and in 2016 became the first homegrown Portland player to sign on as a professional directly from the academy. Farfan has since gone on to debut with the first team in 2017 and has established himself as a regular member of the matchday roster.
Donations from community members and fundraising efforts by family and friends of Eastside Timbers made the realization of a collective dream possible, with hopes to develop future fan favorites like Farfan.