Soccer

United Soccer League testing Boise as pro market with Timbers 2

Kharlton Belmar, front, was named the USL Rookie of the Year in 2015 after leading the Portland Timbers 2 with 12 goals.
Kharlton Belmar, front, was named the USL Rookie of the Year in 2015 after leading the Portland Timbers 2 with 12 goals. T2

After hosting two international soccer powers last summer, the Treasure Valley will further test itself as a soccer market this summer.

Two United Soccer League clubs — the Portland Timbers 2 and Swope Park Rangers of Kansas City — will play a league match at 7 p.m. June 4 at Rocky Mountain High.

“If we get a great response, and I think we will, we’ll continue to have talks with the Timbers or the USL to bring a USL team here permanently,” Idaho Youth Soccer Association President Bill Taylor said.

The USL stands as the third tier of American soccer leagues behind MLS and the North American Soccer League. The USL is home to 29 teams. Some, like the Timbers and Rangers, are owned by MLS clubs. Others are affiliated with MLS clubs, while a handful are independently operated.

General admission tickets are $20 and go on sale at 10 a.m. April 1 at iysa.eventbrite.com. A portion of the ticket sales will go to the Idaho Youth Soccer Association. If tickets remain, they’ll also be on sale at the stadium the night of the match. Parking is free.

Bill Taylor, president of the Idaho Youth Soccer Association, said the goal is to fill Rocky Mountain’s stadium, which seats about 5,000. He said he has permission to bring in extra bleachers or to allow fans around the track.

“This is a realistic dream for us,” Taylor said. “We’re not saying we want to have an MLS team in here. That’s a pipe dream. But we’re a proven market with the Stampede and the Hawks.”

The match continues to build the relationship between the Timbers and the IYSA. Former Eagle High student Blake Bodily, who begins his college career at Washington this fall, made six appearances for the Timbers 2 last season and could see more time with them this year.

In July, Boise hosted the Basque Soccer Friendly at Albertsons Stadium, where 21,948 fans watched Athletic Bilbao of Spain play Club Tijuana of Mexico.

“With Idaho being an important part of the Timbers Homegrown territory, playing this T2 game in the Boise area is a great opportunity for the club to further develop and broaden its partnerships in the state and to showcase the Timbers brand to an ever-increasing, regional fan base,“ Gavin Wilkinson, general manager of the Portland Timbers and T2, said in a release.

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

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