Injuries opened up a unique opportunity for one of the Quakes blossoming young academy stars, Travis Pillon, on Thursday. The 16-year-old native of Oakland, Calif. trained alongside Bobby Convey and Jon Busch, helping fill space in a lineup that has seen a series of injuries.
Pillon participated in drills and played in an eight-aside short-field match. The lanky right back teamed with Busch, Convey, Ryan Johnson, Sam Cronin, Justin Morrow, Bobby Burling and Kamani Hill. Despite his youth, Pillon wasn't afraid of his older, more savvy teammates.
"He got in on tackles, played a good ball, worked hard and I was pleasantly surprised with him. I think he can play, for sure," said Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch.
During 15-minute scrimmages, Pillon played aggressively on the right flank, venturing forward on overlapping runs to play several dangerous balls into the mix. He made few mistakes defensively and eagerly soaked in advice from Busch, teammates and the coaching staff.
"To see a young kid who I've known since he was 12 years old come out here and train with our first team and hold his own was awesome," said Quakes General Manager John Doyle. "Hopefully he takes some of this back to his Academy teammates and motivates them to keep working hard."
Pillon rejoined the Quakes Academy for a training session Thursday afternoon. He will continue to compete with his U-18 teammates at tournaments this summer.
Pillon on his Training Experience:
"You have to be ready to play fast. Your first touch has to be on and you have to know your next option before the ball comes to you. You really have to be on your toes the entire game. It's an honor to play with these guys, but it's only the first step. You have to keep working every day to stay out here."
Pillon on playing against one of his childhood heroes:
"In the beginning of practice during shooting drills I scored a goal against Joe Cannon and it was just like, 'Wow, I just scored a goal against Joe Cannon.'"
Center Back Solutions
Head coach Frank Yallop has yet to commit to a replacement for injured Ike Opara, but there are several scenarios to consider. Brandon McDonald played well in the middle of the defense in 2009 and could slide back from his central midfield spot. Another option could be to move Jason Hernandez back to center back while playing Joey Gjertsen or Brad Ring at right back.
Sealy on the Mend
Scott Sealy practiced alone on the side on Thursday after suffering a strained quad in Saturday's match against Seattle Sounders FC. The Trinidadian striker/midfielder hasn't been ruled out from playing on Saturday.
The Quakes will travel to Colorado on Friday. Saturday's match kicks off at 6 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on MLS Direct Kick or on KDOW 1220.