Notebook: Puntarenas FC is a club on the rise

On Saturday, one of the top clubs in Costa Rica, Puntarenas FC, makes its way to the Rose City to play against the Timbers in an international friendly at PGE Park at 7 p.m. The exhibition presents soccer fans an opportunity to catch one of Central America’s rising clubs.

Fans may recognize Costa Rican teams such as Herediano or Saprissa from their frequent appearances in the CONCACAF Champions League. But, Puntarenas is quickly joining the country’s elite clubs and is making a name for itself throughout the region.

After reaching the finals of the 2009-10 Apertura season in December, Puntarenas had its bid for a return trip in the Clausura season cut short with a quarterfinal-round loss to Alajuelense over the weekend. The Orange-and-Black lost the two-leg series by an aggregate score of 4-3.

Founded in 2004, Puntarenas has quickly become a perennial contender in Costa Rica’s Primera División (first division). The club has reached the semifinals in five of the last 10 tournament seasons and reached its first championship match last winter. Outside of league play, Puntarenas was the runner-up in the Copa UNAFUT tournament during the 2005-06 season.

Achieving a monumental feat, Puntarenas earned a berth in to the 2006-07 CONCACAF Champions League tournament just three seasons into its existence. The tournament annually features some of the best clubs in North America, including teams from Major League Soccer, and Central America. The club was also crowned the champion of the 2006 Copa Interclubes UNCAF, a special tournament consisting of teams from across Central America.

Not only is the club gaining recognition around the region, but its players are also starting to become more of known commodity. Earlier this season, Major League Soccer’s Chivas USA acquired Puntarenas captain and defender Dario Delgado Mora on loan for the season. While Delgado may be gone for now, the club still features Costa Rica National Team defender Pedro Leal Valencia.

In recent seasons, the Timbers have played against clubs from around the world, including Mexico, England, Germany and Italy. This weekend will not only mark the Timbers’ first Costa Rican opponent, but will also help foster a partnership between two organizations striving for success both on and off the pitch.

Tickets for Saturday's exhibition start at $12 in advance and are available through the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000. For Timbers full-season ticket holders, the friendly is included in the package as Game A. For additional ticket information, contact the ticket office at (503) 553-5555.