Timbers sign defender Leonard Griffin from MLS Fire

The Portland Timbers have signed defender Leonard Griffin from Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire, it was announced today. The Timbers’ second-round draft pick in 2004, Griffin played in 18 matches over the last three seasons with the Fire.

“Leonard is a key piece in the formation of this team and will be an important player this season,” said Timbers head coach and general manager Gavin Wilkinson. “He not only adds speed and maturity, but is sound defensively and exciting to watch going forward. I also expect Leonard to help some of the younger players develop as professionals this season through the experiences he has gained in MLS.”

Drafted by the Fire in 2004, Griffin logged a career-high 343 minutes in six games (four starts) in 2006. Last season, he also led the Chicago Fire Reserves in both games and minutes played, recording 717 minutes in nine matches in the reserve division.

After nine appearances during his rookie campaign in 2004, injuries forced Griffin to miss all but three regular-season matches in 2005.

Griffin was the Timbers’ second-round selection in the 2004 USL College Draft, the same draft that also saw the Timbers’ choose Alan Gordon, now a forward for the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS.

Prior to turning pro, Griffin, 24, played collegiate soccer at UCLA and was a member of the Bruins’ national championship team in 2002. During his senior season in 2003, Griffin led a Bruins defense that posted a 0.52 team goals-against average, and tallied a career-high four assists to earn a spot on the All-Pac-10 first team and All-America honors. During his time at UCLA, the Palmdale, Calif., native played in 89 matches, scored two goals and recorded seven assists. While at UCLA, Griffin played three seasons with current Timbers teammate and defender, Scot Thompson, from 2000-2002.

Griffin was a member of the U.S. U-17, U-18 and U-20 National Team pools and played with the U-18 squad during the 1999 U.S. Soccer Festival held in Oregon.

The addition of Griffin brings the number of signed roster players to 15.

The Timbers kick off the 2007 USL First Division season on April 21, when they play host to the Puerto Rico Islanders at PGE Park at 7 p.m. A variety of season ticket packages are available by contacting the Timbers ticket office at (503) 553-5555.