Timbers pick two defenders in 2006 College Player Draft

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers today selected defender Anthony Noreiga from George Mason University and defender Kenney Bertz from the University of Maryland with their two picks in the 2006 USL First Division College Player Draft, held via conference call from the league’s headquarters in Tampa, Fla.

The Timbers had the eighth and 20th overall picks in this year’s draft. Portland picked Noreiga with its first-round pick and Bertz with its second selection in the draft.

Noreiga, 24, was named the 2005 Colonial Athletic Association Defender of the Year after anchoring a Patriots defense that recorded five shutouts during his senior season. A three-year starter at George Mason after transferring from the University of Mobile, the 6-4, 175-pound Noreiga was named to the 2005 All-South Atlantic first team for his efforts during his final season.

"I observed Anthony at the MLS Player Combine and was very impressed with his ability to play smoothly out of the back," said Chris Agnello, head coach and general manager of the Timbers. “I am confident he could come in here and make a difference immediately.”

Noreiga, a member of the U-23 Trinidadian National Team and a native of San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago, tallied four goals during his career at George Mason.

Bertz, an All-ACC first team selection following his senior season, was a fourth-round selection (47th overall) of DC United in the recent MLS SuperDraft after he helped lead Maryland to an NCAA national championship in 2005. The Terrapins defeated New Mexico 1-0 in December’s title game for their first national championship since 1968.

Bertz, a 6-1, 195-pound defender who resides in Liberty Township, Ohio, was named to the All-South Atlantic third team following his senior season. A versatile athlete who played both outside and central defender with the Terps, Bertz amassed six goals and 17 assists during his career at Maryland. The 22-year-old was a full-time starter over his final three years with the Terps, getting the starting nod in 83 of the 94 matches he played during his collegiate career.

In 2003, Bertz played for the Columbus Shooting Stars of the USL Premier Development League (PDL).

“I evaluated Kenney last year on a scouting trip, and he is a big, strong defender,” Agnello said.

The draft was comprised of two rounds of 12 picks. As in the past, the draft order was determined by ranking teams in reverse order of their 2005 regular-season finish. Miami FC, an expansion franchise, received the first pick in each round. With the first pick in the draft, Miami FC selected John Paul Rodrigues of the PDL's Nashville Metros and Belmont University.

Last season, the Timbers selected forward Justin Cook from Ohio State with their first pick and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy from UC-Santa Barbara with their second-round pick.

Portland kicks off its sixth USL season on Saturday, April 22, against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Swangard Stadium. The Timbers open up the home portion of their season by playing host to the Whitecaps at PGE Park on Friday, May 5. A variety of season ticket options are available by calling the Timbers ticket office at (503) 553-5555. For ticket information, go to www.portlandtimbers.com.