Timbers open training camp Monday at PGE Park

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers will begin preparations for the 2005 season with the opening of training camp on Monday, March 28 at 10 a.m. at PGE Park.

Training sessions begin at 10 a.m. and conclude daily at 11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. Timbers players and coaching staff with be available to the media immediately following each training session.

The Timbers, who finished 2004 as the league’s regular-season champions at 18-7-3, will have the majority of last season’s lineup in camp, with several local and out-of-state trialists scheduled to bid for a few remaining roster spots.

”Having looked at the many resumes of players wishing to play for the Timbers, we’ve invited only a handful of players for preseason training to play alongside current players,” head coach Bobby Howe said.

In conjunction with the onset of training camp, the Timbers also announced the re-signing of forward Fadi Afash, defender Aaron Heinzen and midfielder Brian Winters, bringing the number of signed players to 11.

”Without question, it's a priority for us to keep the nucleus of last year's team intact,” Timbers general manager Jim Taylor said. “Winters, Heinzen, and Afash are significant contributors at their respective positions and bring a great deal of experience and skill to our club.”

Afash, 30, re-joined the Timbers in July of last season after spending the 2002-03 campaigns with the team. Known as the “Syrian Striker,” Afash scored five goals in 2004 over 10 appearances off the bench, upping his point total to 58 (27g, 4a) in three seasons with the Timbers.

Afash shared the league goal-scoring title with 18 strikes during the 2002 season and ranks third on the club’s individual scoring list since 2001.

A versatile player at the back, Heinzen, 25, appeared in 13 games with Portland in 2004 before a season-ending ankle injury forced him to the sideline. Fully recovered from surgery, Heinzen will begin his third campaign with the club in 2005.

Winters, 27, enters his fifth season with the Timbers as the franchise’s USL First Division leader in games (101) and minutes played (9,078).

A team leader and a pillar of the midfield for the past four seasons, the University of Portland product played 22 games in 2004 while dishing two assists on the year.

The Timbers will take on the Seattle Sounders in a preseason exhibition match at PGE Park on Saturday, April 9, followed by an MLS exhibition against former Timber Alan Gordon and the Los Angeles Galaxy at PGE Park on Wednesday, April 13.

Portland kicks off the 2005 regular season at PGE Park on Saturday, April 23, against the Toronto Lynx.

To purchase tickets, contact the Timbers ticket office at (503) 553-5555.

TIMBERS TRAINING SCHEDULE AT PGE PARK - WEEK ONE

Monday, March 28 - 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, March 29 - 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, March 30 - 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Thursday, March 31 - 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Friday, April 1 - 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Saturday, April 2 - 1 p.m. vs. Seattle Pacific Falcons
Sunday, April 3 - 1 p.m. vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs