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News / Clark County News

Timbers, Sounders meet again to kick off season

Northwest rivalry matchup to benefit Seattle charities

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published: March 11, 2010, 12:00am

The Portland Timbers don’t play a counting game for more than a month.

But today’s visit to Qwest Field isn’t a run-of-the mill preseason tilt. It’s Portland against Seattle.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

It is the first home game of this preseason for the Sounders, who are beginning their second Major League Soccer season.

Proceeds from the match will benefit the Sounders FC four charity partners.

The Timbers are preparing for their final season in the second division of professional soccer in North America. Portland is scheduled to join MLS in 2011.

But the focus in front of head coach and general manager Gavin Wilkinson is building a team that can compete for a championship in the U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 Pro League. Their 30-game league schedule kicks off on April 17 and concludes on Oct. 2.

“It’s too early to put too much importance on the (Seattle) game,” Wilkinson said.

The Timbers are in their second week of training camp and currently have 22 players on their active roster, including 13 who were contributors in 2009 when the Timbers posted the top record in the United Soccer Leagues First Division.

The team is allowed to carry as many as 30 players. Wilkinson said several players in camp on a trial basis might soon be signed to solidify the roster.

“Expectations are very, very high,” Wilkinson said. “As a coach, you want to achieve more than is possible in the early stages (of training camp).

Still Wilkinson — who will oversee team-related business as the Timbers’ technical director when the franchise joins MLS — said he is pleased with the tenor of early preseason workouts.

In putting together this season’s roster, Wilkinson said he focused a bit more on youth and on adding athletic players in anticipation of the jump to MLS. For the players who make up the 2010 Timbers, it will be a chance to perhaps earn the opportunity to make the jump to MLS along with Portland next season.

“I think the players know what’s at stake,” Wilkinson said.

Today, not much is at stake. Except for payers who are trying to impress coaches and earn playing time.

“It’ll be a very, very good test for us,” Wilkinson said.


• Today’s match is one of seven on the Timbers preseason schedule. They beat Oregon State, 2-0, on March 6. They will play road games against the San Jose Earthquakes of MLS, league rival Vancouver Whitecaps, and the Kitsap Pumas of Bremerton, along with training games with the University of Portland and Seattle University.

• Wilkinson said the Timbers are close to announcing an exciting schedule of international exhibition matches for 2010. He said the club would like to bring one or two teams from England’s top league to Portland this summer.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter