The Portland Timbers seek their first MLS win Saturday in their match against the New England Revolution. At 0-2 on the season, getting in the win column will rely on the skill of 20-year-old goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.
“I’m just trying to learn each and every game and trying to get better. It’s a fantastic experience and hopefully I can play as long as possible,” said Gleeson Wednesday morning during the Timbers’ practice in Beaverton.
Gleeson had no idea he would be center stage for the Timbers. But the youngster from New Zealand played a key role in the Timbers US Open Cup victory over Chivas USA Tuesday night at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field. The 2-0 shutout impressed Gleeson’s teammates.
“I think the guys are all confident in him. The coaches are all confident in him. And I think it’s great for young guys to continue to be successful and he’s done a great job,” said Timbers midfielder and team captain Jack Jewsbury.
Gleeson helped the Timbers U-23 team win the premier developmental league championship last season with 8 shutouts. He also came up big for the USL Timbers during an exhibition with Atlas of Mexico. But the MLS is a huge step.
“It’s the fastest pace I’ve ever played,” said Gleeson. “I’ve never played at this level so just getting used to that, the speed of the ball, going from one end to the other, the movement of the players – I’m still learning every second that I play.”
Timbers Head Coach John Spencer likes what he sees. Spencer wants to make sure Gleeson takes it all in stride and not get overconfident.
“Don’t listen to what outsiders are saying,” said Spencer. “Listen to what the coaching staff is saying. Take the information and process it and just keep doing what you’re doing.”