When Tony Vandermeer took over the South Albany High boys soccer program two years ago, he wanted to work on building up the soccer culture at the school.
One way that Vandermeer, a longtime college and high school coach in the area, did that was by inviting other coaches and soccer minds to give talks during lunch meetings on game days.
One of those coaches was Aaron Lewis, the head coach at Corban University in Salem. Lewis was a star forward and played for Vandermeer back when Corban was Western Baptist.
A new relationship was developed and in the spring of 2017 Lewis brought his Corban team down for a day of scrimmages at South.
It went so well he did it again this year.
Lewis, who also coaches the Timbers U23 team, which is based out of Salem, wanted to do something even more — he wanted to see if Vandermeer was interested in having the U23 team play a preseason game at South.
It was an easy sell.
The Timbers U23 team will take on Starphire FC, based out of Medford, at 7 p.m. on May 2 at South Albany High.
“To be honest this is huge, it’s as big as it can get as far as the Timbers bringing a U23 team into Albany.” Vandermeer said.
Tickets, which cost $5, are on sale now and available from players at South, West Albany, Lebanon and Central Linn. They will also be on sale starting at 6 p.m. the day of the match.
Vandermeer said nearly 500 tickets were sold by early last week.
“What’s really cool is the town is excited,” he said. “This game is an amazing opportunity for our community to see high level soccer. With the Timbers U23 team playing their home games in Salem, my hunch is that our soccer community will want to see them play more. We’re glad that the Timbers U23 team is coming and that season tickets and Timbers gear will be sold that night as well.”
The proceeds from ticket sales will go to those four high schools – South, West, Lebanon and Central Linn – as well as the Total Futbol Academy.
"We are thrilled to bring our team to Albany for this exciting event,” Lewis said. “It is obvious that soccer is trending in this community and we want to be a part of that growth."
There will be a special halftime presentation that will recognize a large group of players who have committed to play soccer in college.
South Albany senior Marco Reyes, who took part in the Timbers U23 tryouts, has been invited into the preseason with the team.