DALLAS — Caleb Kiner, an incoming junior at Dallas High School, has replaced his orange and black soccer jersey for another one: The green and white of the Portland Timbers second team, or T2.
“He knew at the age of 4 that he wanted to be a professional soccer player, and that’s what he’s been working towards all these years,” said John Kiner, Caleb’s father.
The T2 team is a professional team that competes in the lower division of American professional soccer league.
Below that team is the Timbers Academy, a youth development program that Kiner has been a part of for the past six months.
“I joined the academy six months ago, and then I just started training with the T2 team maybe three or four weeks ago,” Caleb said. “They saw me at a tournament, and then they invited me to play in a tournament with them, and then they asked me to come back and I joined the team.”
Since then he’s played in three games with the T2.
“It’s great,” Caleb said. “The players on this team are all high-level guys who have been in college or have more experience, so it’s at a higher level and it pushes me more, which is good. I was a little nervous at first because I wanted to prove to myself and that I could hang with them.”
According to John, he has.
“All of his coaches always talk about how hard of a worker he is,” he said. “When he made his debut two Sundays ago, one of his coaches was there, and I said, ‘Thank you for bringing him this far,’ and he goes, ‘No it’s all on him. He’s a hard worker.’
“When I go to his practices to watch, he’s always the one first out running, he’s always the leader of the pack. He gets at it.”
Being affiliated with the Timbers means he can no longer plays soccer at Dallas High School.
John says it’s good to see him play with older, more experienced players.
“It’s been frustrating that the guys he played with couldn’t keep up with him, and now he’s with older players and that challenges him,” he said, “and he’s humbled; he’s like, ‘Dad, those guys are way better than me.’ It makes him strive to be better.”
Caleb, the youngest player on the T2 team at 16, said he hopes this will eventually lead to him being signed on as a professional player.
“I’m planning for either the college route or getting signed would be the other option,” he said.
Throughout the course of his life, Caleb has played other sports, including basketball, but nothing came close to his passion for soccer.
“One thing has been constant in his life, and that’s soccer,” John said. “He’s a great basketball player; I wanted him to be another Stephen Curry, but basketball is his second love. He’s like, ‘Dad that’s not my first love. It’s soccer, it always has been, it’s always gotta be. And I go, ‘You’re not gonna make a lot of money playing professional soccer, and he said, it’s not about the money, it’s about my love of soccer. So I just sit back and watch him and beam with pride.”