USL statement regarding Portland MLS expansion

TAMPA, FL – Upon the announcement of Major League Soccer’s expansion to Portland, Oregon for 2011, United Soccer Leagues Vice President and COO Tim Holt issued the following statement regarding the Portland Timbers and the club’s current and future association with USL:
“United Soccer Leagues congratulates Merritt Paulson on the acceptance of his application for a Major League Soccer franchise in Portland, Oregon.  The USL First Division has been fortunate to count amongst its ranks a team owner with the dedication and business instincts Merritt possesses, and we appreciate his contributions to the growth of USL-1 the past two years.  Since the Timbers reincarnation through USL-1 in 2001, Portland has proven itself a premier soccer market in terms of its passionate and sophisticated supporters, as best exemplified by the Timbers Army.  With the establishment of a Premier Development League team this season to support the professional team under the same brand, we expect that the Portland Timbers will continue to be part of USL development system of leagues for many years to come.”
“Considering the early success of Seattle Sounders FC and this week’s granting by MLS of expansion rights to two other USL-1 teams, it is evident that the USL professional division has become an important proving ground for not only players and coaches, but also markets and teams in American soccer.  We look forward to watching the Timbers compete for a USL-1 Championship in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and as a league building upon the increased attention and awareness generated by both this round of MLS expansion and the recent success of our teams in the CONCACAF Champions League and US Open Cup.”