Timbers release initial roster

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers today released their initial 2006 roster in anticipation of Saturday’s season opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Swangard Stadium.

Portland’s 21-man roster, a mix of college standouts, Major League Soccer veterans and returning stars, features two goalkeepers, eight defenders, eight midfielders and three forwards.

The makeup of this year’s opening roster:

THE COACH: Timbers head coach and general manager Chris Agnello marks his first season in Portland and his sixth as a head coach in the United Soccer Leagues (USL). The former Warner Pacific standout led the Utah Blitzz, formerly of the USL Second Division, to an overall 64-21-11 record and five Western Conference regular season championships. Last season, Agnello was an assistant coach with Real Salt Lake of MLS.

RIGHT-HAND MAN: Primary assistant coach and former defender Gavin Wilkinson has made the leap from player to full-time coach this season. Wilkinson was a member of the inaugural 2001 Timbers USL squad and played in each of the team’s first five seasons. He ranks second among the franchise’s career leaders in games (116), minutes (9,898) and fouls (162).

COLLEGE EDUCATION: Four Timbers players are getting their first experience as professional players in Portland this season. Josh Brown (Univ. of Portland/Univ. of New Mexico), Oral Bullen (UMass), Salim Bullen (Bradley Univ.) and Mike Randolph (Yavapai College) all played at the collegiate level in 2005. Defender Salim Bullen and forward Mamba Chisoni (Coastal Carolina) are still completing their college educations and will not join the team until after they graduate in early May.

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER APPROVED: Four of the current Timbers played and trained with MLS teams last season. Defenders Michael Nsien (L.A. Galaxy) and Jacobi Goodfellow (L.A. Galaxy), midfielder Luke Kreamalmeyer (Real Salt Lake) and forward Mamba Chisoni (L.A. Galaxy) all bring MLS experience to the team in 2006.

L.A. OKAY: The Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS has proven to be a significant source of Timbers players. Along with newcomers Michael Nsien, Jacobi Goodfellow and Mamba Chisoni, who all played for the Galaxy last year, returning Timbers players Josh Saunders and Scot Thompson also have ties to the club. Saunders, still under contract with the Galaxy, is currently in Portland on loan and Thompson, who also initially came to Portland on loan, last played for Los Angeles in 2004.

WELCOME BACK: In all, eight of the players on the roster have previous experience with the Timbers. Seven of those players - Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar (2002-05), Byron Alvarez (2003-05), Garrett Marcum (2004-05), Edwin Miranda (2004-05), Lee Morrison (2003-05), Josh Saunders (2003-05) and Scot Thompson (2004-05) - have played more than one season with the Timbers. The only player to have just one season in Portland is Tom Poltl (2005).

INTRODUCTIONS, PLEASE: Thirteen players mark their first tour of duty with the Timbers in 2006. Goalkeeper Devin Zimmerman, defenders Josh Brown, Salim Bullen, Jacobi Goodfellow, Michael Nsien and Mike Randolph, midfielders Oral Bullen, Alejandro Gutierrez, Sergio Iñiguez, Luke Kreamalmeyer and Troy Ready, and forwards Mamba Chisoni and Drew McAthy are all new to the Timbers.

FOR THE AGES: At 20 years of age, defender Mike Randolph is the youngest player on the active roster (12/3/80), while Alejandro Gutierrez, 32, is the eldest member of the club (11/9/73).

GEOGRAPHICALLY SPEAKING: A breakdown of hometowns by state or country on this year’s opening day roster; the list is comprised of eight states in addition to two countries outside the United States:
California - 9 (Alcaraz-Cuellar, Marcum, McAthy, Miranda, Morrison, Poltl, Randolph, Saunders, Thompson)
New York - 2 (O. Bullen, S. Bullen)
Oregon - 2 (Alvarez, Brown)
Washington - 2 (Goodfellow, Ready)
Arizona - 1 (Iñiguez)
Colombia - 1 (Gutierrez)
Illinois - 1 (Kreamalmeyer)
Oklahoma - 1 (Nsien)
Utah - 1 (Zimmerman)
Zimbabwe - 1 (Chisoni)