Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gavin Wilkinson the new GM

The Timbers announced that Gavin Wilkinson will be retained by the Timbers as the new Technical Director, which essentially includes all aspects of the playing field (and none of the business, sponsorship, etc.) He will be in charge of scouting, player contracts, the youth team, etc.

This is an excellent promotion for a dedicated servant to the club. Congratulations, Gav.

I will be especially interested to hear his thoughts on the youth model the Timbers will pursue. I'm happy the Timbers have a U-23 team, with Brian Visser the first graduate. What about Collen Warner? Did the Timbers attempt to offer him a contract? Because he just got drafted by Real Salt Lake in MLS, and soccerbyives.net is talking him up as a projected rookie standout.

But there are several different models for youth programs in MLS. Chicago has satellite teams and a Chicago Fire Academy, with plans for a residential program. Colorado, on the other hand, partnered with Colorado youth teams which will contribute members to the Rapids Academy, while being retained by their clubs. The Rapids offer coaching assistance. And I'm guessing the youth teams contribute to some ticket sales. The Red Bulls have an excellent scouting program, and one of the top youth teams in the country, while contributing several young pros, like Jozy Altidore, Dilly Duka, Matt Kassel (at Maryland), and the Red Bulls first youth signing, whose name escapes me but it sounds like Giorgios.

Gavin's personnel decisions improved dramatically last year. Ryan Pore, David Hayes, and Mo Keita were all great pickups. But the year before that? Let's not talk about that...

Good luck, Gav! You've got my support- for at least 3 years.

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