Timbers sign star forward Alvarez to two-year deal

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers announced Tuesday the signing of forward Byron Alvarez to a two-year deal, securing his services in Portland through the 2005 season. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We're very pleased to announce today the signing of Byron Alvarez to a multi-year contract that will keep him in a Timbers uniform through the 2005 season," said general manager Jim Taylor. "Players of his character and caliber don't come along very often and we wanted to make a long-term commitment to him just as he's made a selfless commitment to the Timbers to play as an amateur this season."

Due to complications obtaining a P-1 work visa, a permit awarded to professional athletes from abroad, Alvarez played the entire 2003 season as an amateur without pay.

"I'm excited to stay in Portland and not to have to worry about my salary," said Alvarez. "I have a pro contract now, so I can fully concentrate on winning a championship in Portland. This is my main goal."

With 12 goals in just 21 games played, Alvarez was the Timbers' leading goal-scorer and ranked fourth in the A-League during the 2003 season. The rookie also scored six game-winning goals, including a hat-trick performance July 3 vs. Vancouver, in which he scored three goals in a 20-minute span off the bench.

The signing comes on the heels of Alvarez' naming to the A-League 2003 All-League Second Team last week. Alvarez was a five-time member of the "Team of the Week" in 2003, including "Player of the Week" for Week 12.

Alvarez, a Mexico City native of Guatemalan decent, played professionally in the Mexican Second Division and for the NY/NJ Metrostars of MLS before joining the Timbers this season.