Timbers sign Japanese forward Takayuki Suzuki

PORTLAND, Ore.The Portland Timbers announced today the club has signed Japanese forward and 2002 World Cup participant Takayuki Suzuki for the 2008 season. Suzuki has made 55 appearances and scored 11 goals as a member of Japan’s National Team and is considered the club’s most significant signing since joining United Soccer Leagues in 2001.  
 
“Takayuki is probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, signing the Timbers have made since joining the USL First Division,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers head coach and general manager. “No other player has as many senior international appearances or international goals. He’s a strong, left-footed striker and we expect him to fit in well and be a big contributor going forward.”
 
Suzuki, 31, played in all four matches for Japan during the 2002 World Cup and scored the equalizer in a 2-2 draw against Belgium in group play. His international career also includes appearances in the 2001 and 2005 FIFA Confederations Cups, and he led Japan to the Asian Cup title in 2004. Suzuki scored three goals in five qualifying matches to help Japan reach the 2006 World Cup.
 
A native of Hitachi, Japan, Suzuki will be available for the Timbers preseason match Friday against Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes at the University of Portland.
 
“It’s an honor to be playing for the Timbers,” said Suzuki. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to come in, contribute up front and be a piece that helps this team win a championship.”
 
Suzuki began his professional career in 1995 with the Kashima Antlers of the J-League, Japan’s highest level of professional soccer. A 12-year veteran, Suzuki has played for several J-League clubs as well as for clubs in Brazil, Belgium and Serbia. During his time in Europe, Suzuki played in four UEFA Champions League matches with Belgium’s Racing Genk in 2003, and helped Serbian club Red Star Belgrade capture the 2005-06 Meridian Superliga championship. Last season, he played for J-League club Yokohama F. Marinos.
 
The signing of Suzuki brings the Timbers’ roster to 17 signed players.
 
Suzuki will be available to members of the media Monday following training at PGE Park at 10:30 a.m.
 
The Timbers open the 2008 USL First Division campaign against the Puerto Rico Islanders on April 17 at PGE Park. Tickets, starting at $11, are available through local Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (503) 224-4400. Season-ticket packages, party suites and group discounts for the 2008 season are available through the Timbers’ ticket office at (503) 553-5555.