1. T2 experienced a pretty big change over the offseason with 2015 head coach Jay Vidovich heading back to the college game. What led to his departure and how has replacement and former assistant Andrew Gregor done so far?
We don't really know why Jay left T2. Officially it was by mutual consent. And Jay went back to the east coast to return to coaching college soccer. It was most likely that he just decided he didn't want to coach professionally or was homesick or a bit of both. T2 is a development team first and foremost so any results over the 2015 season would not have been any reason to see Jay leave. The front office had every intention of keeping him into 2016 so it had to have been Jay who wanted to leave for his own personal reasons.
Andrew Gregor is someone who is local. He graduated from a Portland area high school and played for the University of Portland where T2 currently spend a majority of their home matches at. He also played for the Timbers in their USL days. So Gregor has a lot of roots already within the organization. Prior to getting the upgrade to head coach, Gregor was assistant to Jay and helped coach the academy teams for the Timbers. Being so embedded within the organization gives him a strong understanding of what Caleb Porter is trying to build from top to bottom. And it put him in the perfect position to make the move to run T2. But just like many of the players on the team right now, Gregor is still new to being a head coach and he and his staff must grow and develop themselves alongside the players as the season progresses.
2. T2 comes into Sunday's match in dead last with zero points in three games. What's going wrong early on and have there been any bright spots as well?
With no points yet in 2016 and S2 having secured a draw and their first point, it does leave T2 at the very bottom of the table. You can't say much has gone right so far, so pretty much it has all gone wrong. T2 has had defensive mistakes, horrible passing, bad touches, and given up a PK in every single match so far. At times this makes them look like a high school junior varsity team. But Gregor insists patience is needed as it takes a while to get a lot of the young players, especially the internationals, groomed and adjusted to their system and style of play. The first match was a 2-1 loss to Swope Park that could've been far worse of a scoreline. Up against the Whitecaps 2 they looked much better and for much of the match looked to play just as well as Vancouver. But following that up with a 2-0 loss to Rio Grande Valley saw them fall back on any progress they made from Game 1 to Game 2. So the idea is just how inconsistent this team is. Part of it is the youth and inexperience. But part of it is also how I think most "2" teams in USL, whose objectives are to develop players and do not place priority on results at all, will be the most inconsistent teams across the season results wise. T2 is just going to lead the pack for the first half of the season most likely.
3. T2 has the reigning Rookie of the Year in Kharlton Belmar. Are you expecting to see him or any other promising players called up to the senior team this season?
Belmar can't even get a start for T2 right now. There is no chance he gets called up to the 1st team. Zero. If there was a chance? It'd be a snowball's chance in hell. Many fans are baffled as to why Belmar doesn't start for T2 right now over Villyvan Bijev. Belmar has been subbed on and makes the attack more coherent with his addition. But this T2 team doesn't prioritize results. They are focused on development. So for whatever reason it appears that the organization does not value Belmar or see him as someone who has the potential to play for the first team. And right now if you do not have any potential to make the first team, you are not likely to get any minutes with T2 beyond substitute appearances or emergency starts if a priority prospect can't play.
Anyone signed with T2 are unlikely to ever be called up to the first team. The only players who have that shot are the ones who already have first team contracts and are being loaned down to get minutes and/or develop as players (examples: Nick Besler, Neco Brett, Ben Polk, Taylor Peay, Anthony Manning, Andy Thoma). And of all of the first team loans Neco Brett seems the most likely candidate to find minutes with the first team. An early round of the US Open Cup and/or CONCACAF Champions group stage. Brett has been making the bench for the first team so he could see a few non-MLS league minutes this season if he continues to impress.
BONUS: Players to keep an eye on, if for nothing more than their potential to do something neat: Dylan Damraoui, Neco Brett, Victor Arboleda, and (if he gets more than a 5 min sub appearance this time) Alexis Meva.