Timbers President Merritt Paulson earns USL honors

PORTLAND, Ore. – United Soccer Leagues announced Friday that Portland Timbers President Merritt Paulson was named the 2009 USL First Division Sprinturf Executive of the Year at the USL Hall of Fame and Awards Dinner as part of its Annual General Meeting in Tampa, Fla.

Paulson, 36, presided over one of the Timbers’ best seasons in modern-franchise history in 2009. The prestigious award has been presented annually to a team executive since 1999.

“The team made great strides on and off the field this season,” said Paulson. “The entire Timbers organization deserves the credit for an award such as this.”

In 2009, the Timbers won the USL First Division Commissioner’s Cup as the league’s regular-season champion and set a league record with one of the longest unbeaten streaks in United States soccer history at 24 games. The Timbers also reached the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, playing Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders FC before a sold-out crowd of 16,382 at PGE Park.

In three seasons under Paulson’s guidance, the Timbers have set franchise records for attendance and consistently rank among the USL First Division’s top attended clubs, made significant strides in community outreach with the award-winning Portland Beavers & Portland Timbers Community Fund and reached the league semifinals twice. Additionally, the Timbers have been recognized by USL for their marketing and communications efforts over the past few seasons.

Prior to joining the Timbers, Paulson spent four years with NBA Entertainment, where he helped launch and develop NBA-TV. Previously, he was a manager with HBO on Demand and was a part of the team that launched the first premium subscription video on-demand service. Paulson’s professional career also includes time with a joint venture in Palo Alto, Calif., that focused on building high-speed wireless networks.

Additionally, the Timbers were named the USL First Division Organization of the Year and received the league’s 2009 Fair Play and Marketing Awards at the annual awards ceremony.

The Timbers’ list of accolades from this past season also includes the USL First Division Coach of the Year (Gavin Wilkinson), Goalkeeper of the Year (Steve Cronin) and Scoring Champion (Mandjou Keita).

USL Organizational & Executive Honors
USL First Division
Regular Season Champions: Portland Timbers
Fair Play: Portland Timbers
Marketing: Portland Timbers
Communications: Vancouver Whitecaps
Betsy McAdams Key Grip Award: Carmen Vanessa Figueroa, Puerto Rico Islanders
Sprinturf Executive of the Year: Merritt Paulson, Portland Timbers
Rookie Franchise of the Year: Austin Aztex
Organization of the Year: Portland Timbers

Premier Development League
Regular Season Champions: Reading Rage
Fair Play: Virginia Legacy
Marketing: Reading Rage
Communications: Seattle Wolves
Betsy McAdams Key Grip Award: Fabricio Codeceira, Fresno Fuego
Rookie Franchise of the Year: West Texas United
Sprinturf Executive of the Year: David Markley, Austin Aztex U23
Organization of the Year: Des Moines Menace