Highlanders hope to school Timbers U-23

In many ways, the Portland Timbers U-23 and Seattle Sounders U-23 give the Northwest Division of the USL Premier Development League its cachet. It’s name-brand affiliate recognition tied into Major League Soccer.

But even at that, what the Victoria Highlanders players face today in Portland against the Timbers U-23 is something they will not soon forget. A crowd of more than 8,000 shrieking students is expected for the special 11 a.m. school-day start.

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“Our guys are super excited to be playing in an atmosphere like that,” said Highlanders head coach Dave Dew.

“Everything that comes with being associated with an MLS club filters down. The Timbers are the defending MLS champions and success breeds success throughout the system. The Timbers U-23 team has access to a standard of player the organization wants to develop.”

Victoria (1-1) is coming off a 2-0 loss to Calgary Foothills FC in the home opener last Sunday at Centennial Stadium. Earlier, the Highlanders were awarded their lone win via the boardroom when a 3-0 season-opening loss to the Kitsap Pumas went into the books as a Victoria victory because the Pumas used an ineligible player.

“We’re a young team that needs to keep learning from its mistakes,” said Dew. “We need to pay attention to detail.”

Timbers U-23 (0-1) started the PDL season with a 1-0 loss to rival Lane United from nearby Eugene, Oregon, a team loaded with NCAA Div. 1 talent.

“Lane is trying to improve its stature and prove itself, and that was a big win for them over Timbers U-23,” Dew said.

The Highlanders play Lane United (1-0-1) Saturday in Eugene.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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