Veterans Suzuki, Higgins return for 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced the club has re-signed Japanese forward Takayuki Suzuki and veteran midfielder Shaun Higgins for the 2009 USL First Division season pending USSF approval.

Additionally, the Timbers have agreed to an offer to sell the contract of midfielder Lawrence Olum to the Minnesota Thunder of the USL First Division pending league approval. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Suzuki, who played in the 2002 World Cup for Japan, returns for a second season, while Higgins enters his fourth season in Portland in 2009.

Last season, Suzuki appeared in 26 matches, recording one goal and an assist with the Timbers, and was named the USL First Division Player of the Week in Week 2. Suzuki, 32, has 55 caps as a member of the Japanese National Team, including four appearances in the 2002 World Cup, and has scored 11 goals in international competition. The 13-year veteran started his career with the Kashima Antlers of the J-League in 1995 and has played for clubs in Japan, Brazil, Serbia and Belgium, where he played in the UEFA Champions League with Racing Genk in 2003.

Higgins set new career marks last season with the Timbers, appearing in 28 matches and logging 2,313 minutes. He also matched a career-high with two goals and was named to the USL First Division Team of the Week in Week 2. Higgins, 30, first joined the Timbers in 2005, and then returned in 2007 after a season with Chivas USA of Major League Soccer. A native of Redlands, Calif., Higgins has logged 4,927 minutes over 68 matches and tallied four goals during his time with Portland.

Olum, 24, appeared in 44 matches and recorded 2,358 minutes, six goals and one assist in two seasons with the Timbers.

After starting the season on the road in Vancouver, the Timbers kick off their 2009 home schedule on April 30 at PGE Park against the Carolina RailHawks at 7 p.m. Season tickets, starting as low as $150, and a variety of ticket plans are currently available. For more information, visit www.portlandtimbers.com or contact the ticket office at (503) 553-5555.