Eugene Metro Fútbol Club is moving on up, with a new connection, new name and new opportunities for its more than 500 players. EMFC has joined forces with the Portland Timbers and its Timbers Alliance, becoming Eugene Timbers Fútbol Club and, in turn, notably allowing its youth groups to play on a bigger stage.
The Eugene club is one of six in the region to be invited by the Timbers. The other five are from Vancouver, Wash., Portland (Westside and Eastside), Bend and the Rogue Valley. “We’re really excited that the Timbers acknowledge the quality of our club and want us to be part of this group of six,” says Derek Johnson, president of the EMFC board of directors.
This relationship with the Timbers will give players from Eugene’s club new colors for its uniforms — red and black — and the chance to play for Timbers Alliance teams. These teams, with talent pooled from the six clubs, will play in some of the larger tournaments across the country in front of prospective college coaches. Before joining the Timbers Alliance, EMFC didn’t have the means to participate.
“For instance, if the alliance of six clubs wants to put together an U-15 [under 15 years old] team to go to the Dallas Cup in Dallas they would have tryouts for that team,” Johnson says. “It gives our kids opportunity for exposure and higher quality soccer they just would not be able to get through an individual club.”
Johnson credits the efforts of Jürgen Ruckaberle, EMFC’s director of coaching, who helped gain this kind of recognition from the Timbers. “EMFC, under Jürgen’s leadership and the quality of our coaching, has really become one of the top clubs in the state,” Johnson says.
Coaches will have access to coaching clinics with the Portland Thorns and Timbers, which excites Ruckaberle in addition to what the alliance means to the players. “Our players will benefit because our coaches will have more experience and expertise,” Ruckaberle says.
It’s a win-win, and all in all, it’s a testament to just how big soccer has become. “It gives kids the opportunity to realize there is more out there than the local team here in Eugene,” Johnson says. “There’s more opportunity if you want to excel and look to the bigger picture.”