Timbers U-23s face Hitmen in conference playoffs

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers U-23s face the Hollywood United Hitmen in the Premier Development League’s Western Conference semifinals on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Bremerton Memorial Stadium in Bremerton, Wash.

The Northwest Division-champion Timbers U-23s advanced to the playoffs for a second season after finishing the 2010 regular season with a perfect 16-0-0 record. Portland became the first team in the PDL to post a perfect record – without a loss or draw – since 1998 and led the 67-team league in scoring with 53 goals, while allowing a league-low six goals during the campaign.

The Timbers U-23s meet the Southwest Division runner-up Hitmen for the first time on Saturday as the two clubs kickoff the four-team Western Conference tournament. The Kitsap Pumas and the defending-PDL champion Ventura County Fusion square off in the other Western Conference semifinal matchup Saturday at 5 p.m.

The winners from Saturday’s semifinal matches will compete for the Western Conference title on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Bremerton Memorial Stadium.

The Timbers U-23s finished their regular-season slate with a 1-0 road win over Kitsap on July 18. The Timbers U-23s are led by forward Brent Richards, who finished second in the league in goals scored (14) and ranked among the top five scorers in the PDL. Midfielder Freddie Braun tallied eight assists during the regular season, which ranked third in the league. Earlier this week, goalkeeper Jake Gleeson was crowned the PDL’s goals-against-average champion, allowing just five goals in 15 games for a 0.36 goals-against average.

Hollywood United (10-3-3, 33pts) defeated the Ogden Outlaws in their regular-season finale to secure a second consecutive playoff appearance. The Hitmen, based in Los Angeles, Calif., finished the 2010 regular season in second place in the Southwest Division, just one point behind the Fusion.

The Hitmen roster features forward Jaime Chavez, who finished the campaign ranked among league leaders in goals (11) and assists (7). Former Timbers midfielder Edwin Miranda also plays for Hollywood United, along with midfielder Brent Whitfield, who played for Major League Soccer’s Chivas USA from 2006-07.

On July 25, Hollywood United played host to El Salvador’s A.D. Isidro Metapán in an exhibition match in Los Angeles. Metapán defeated the PDL side 1-0 in its final preparation match before starting CONCACAF Champions League play against MLS’ Seattle Sounders FC this week.

Saturday’s match marks the first time the Timbers U-23s have played a team from outside the Northwest Division since joining the PDL in 2009.