Former Portland Timbers player Vitas Andrewskevicius joins Thorns coaching staff

With the much-anticipated spring sunrise on the grass on Tuesday, Vytas Andriuskevicius ran along the sideline in Providence Park and put a perfect cross at the feet of an attacking player. It was a familiar move into a familiar place for Vytas, but in a new role.

A former favorite as the Portland Timbers defender, the player known as Vitas joined the Portland Thorns as an assistant coach earlier this month. After playing in Portland from 2016-18 and making 37 appearances, the 31-year-old Vitas suspended his cleats in 2021.

“The whole reason I came back here was the moment I came here, the moment I experienced the feeling of being part of this community and organization, I fell in love,” Vitas said. “I knew when I left that I wanted to come back to live here. I have so much respect and love for this organization, it is a no-brainer. I am so happy, excited and eager to learn and give back.”

He trained Vitas at the Oregon Premier Soccer Academy before joining the Thorns. He and his wife, Greta, decided to return to Portland from Lithuania before such a job with Thorns became possible. Vitas liked Portland very much, and he was able to convince Greta.

“They reached out and said there would be a new Thorns coach, and maybe it would be a good idea for me to be one of the assistants,” Vitas said. “They said I should go and meet Ryan and see how it goes. It turns out to be something they gave me a chance to work full time and dedicated to Thorns, which is really exciting. I love it.

“I came back here and didn’t even know what was going to happen next. But the way my life is going, opportunities come all the time. I never had much choice, but whoever gave me a chance along the way, I grabbed it and watched it go. things.”

Training was never something Vitas thought he would be involved in after retirement. But the soccer institutions and resources based in the United States – particularly in comparison to his native Lithuania, where he said there was a lack of opportunity in the sport – brought him back into the game.

“Here, there is more space and more opportunities in football,” Vitas said. “These are the best conditions to be a coach. If you do an honest job and work hard, you will be rewarded. … It opens my eyes to the view through the training lens. When you are a player, you only think about yourself and how you contribute to the team. When you are on the coaching side, There are a lot of different little pieces. It’s tactics, analysis, learning about opponents, modifying your playing style, studying player characteristics.”

Portland is now home to the Vytas and Greta. And in his new role with the upcoming 2021 NWSL Shield Thorns, Vytas hopes to contribute as much as he can to the tournament culture in the city that has fueled his passion for the game. Whether it’s creating crosses during fun post-workout moments or providing an extra perspective on his football career that Thorns players can use.

“I love him,” said Vitas. “The city, the people, the community, the football. When you come to the Timbers games, you see it. People here love football. The number of thistles is 15,000 people. The feelings are great. The city has open people and everyone is very kind and supportive, and everyone is trying to improve it.”

– Ryan Clark,

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