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Growing Timbers

Portland Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury stepped onto a soccer field at U.S. Cellular Community Park and looked out upon a group of youth soccer players practicing their skills on Wednesday.

After observing for a few moments, the MLS veteran offered up some instruction. And before long, Jewsbury was jogging up and down the opposite pitch, accepting and dishing out passes to a group of delighted children attending the Timbers' Rose City Road Trip event.

"They are making me sweat, I'll tell you that much," Jewsbury said. "At first I didn't think I was gonna run around too much, but once you see the ball rolling around and the smiles on their faces you want to get involved. And that is what it is all about: continuing to give back."

Between 80 and 100 kids showed up to partake in the free clinic, which included coaching and activities and an autograph and question-and-answer session. Jewsbury, Timbers 2 players Dylan Damraoui and Brent Richards, Portland mascot Timber Joey and around 20 total Timbers staff helped to host the soccer celebration that McLoughlin Middle School eighth-grader Jaeda Bentwell won't soon forget.

"It is so fun," the young striker said. "It is such a different experience. I love learning new techniques and I love all the activities."

Bentwell's longtime friend, 13-year-old Emily Ingledew, was also all grins during the event, which was in partnership with Providence Medical Center.

"It was really cool to play with the players and meet them," said Ingledew, a member of the RVT 02G squad who plays everything but goalkeeper. "They just told us good job. It was so cool."

Timbers mascot Joey Webber was a hit with fans who stopped to take photographs with him.

"The love of all the people here, your fan base is incredible," said Webber, who sported his identifiable hard hat and beard. "To share everything with a community that really loves the Timbers is really special to us."

Webber, a Philomath High graduate, got his gig in 2008.

"It's the most exciting job anyone could ever have," he said. "I have a logging background and a background in sports, so it worked out really well."

Brothers Mason Nieto (age 10) and Noah (8) were like kids in a candy shop getting the chance to kick it with the standouts, including the Belgium midfielder Damraoui and forward Richards, a Camas, Wash., native. Those two professional players are members of the Timbers' reserve squad (which is often referred to as "T2").

Nearby was Stephanie Techler, who swung by to get an autograph and photograph for a relative. Techler, who won a national pole vault title at Southern Oregon University in 2014, was embracing her soccer roots. She's from Berlin.

"It's awesome to just see the youth so interested in the sport," she said.

The Timbers' 2015 MLS Cup trophy was on display for fans to view on Tuesday at South Medford High. Earlier Wednesday, the staff visited patients at Providence Medical Center. After the autograph and Q-and-A session, the group worked alongside Unete Center for Farm Worker Advocacy to help package food staples and other items to distribute to local migrant farm workers.

It felt good to give back, Jewsbury said.

"It's always fun to get out and about in the community," he said. "People see you on TV, but especially being a 4½-to-5-hour drive away, maybe they aren't able to get to games. ... I think for us, our fans are obviously fantastic and the best in the league, so to give back and come out there and visit with some of them is special for us."

Jewsbury, a Missouri native, was traded to Portland from Kansas City in 2011 after being drafted by the Wizards 43rd overall in 2003.

"I'd never gotten my hands on an MLS Cup (until last year)," he said. "To be able to do that and share it with the different communities ... it was so special."

Jewsbury and the Timbers (5-5-6) host Houston (3-5-7) at 3 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2. The Timbers are coming off a 2-2 tie with Real Salt Lake last Saturday.

"It's a big game," he said. "We've been on a good little streak right now and want to keep that going. Three points will take us a long way."

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt

Portland Timbers players, from left, Brent Richards, Jack Jewsbery, Dylan Damraoui and team mascot 'Timber Joey' sign autographs for children during a soccer clinic Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Community Park in Medford. MAIL TRIBUNE / DENISE BARATTA
Youth players at the Portland Timbers clinic scrimmage Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Community Park. MAIL TRIBUNE / DENISE BARATTA