Timbers U-23s begin PDL championship run Friday

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers U-23s continue their undefeated season Friday and begin the final push for the 2010 Premier Development League Championship as they take on Reading United AC in the league’s semifinals at PGE Park; kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Friday’s playoff match is part of a semifinal doubleheader at PGE Park. The Thunder Bay Chill square off against the Baton Rouge Capitals at 5 p.m., before the Timbers U-23s battle Reading United; gates open at 4:30 p.m. Winners of the two semifinal matches on Friday will meet for the PDL title Saturday at PGE Park at 4 p.m. live on Fox Soccer Channel. A third-place match will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at PGE Park.

Tickets for the two-day tournament are $10 per day and allow entry into both scheduled matches on Friday or Saturday. Fans can purchase a two-day package, which allows entry to all four games, for $15. Tickets are available through the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000. Timbers U-23s 2010 season passes will not grant entry into playoff contests.

The Timbers U-23s became the first team in the PDL since 1998 to post a perfect record – without a loss or draw – with a 16-0-0 mark during the regular season. Under head coach Jim Rilatt, the Timbers U-23s won their first Northwest Division and Western Conference championships while leading the entire PDL in scoring with 53 goals. Several Timbers U-23s have been recognized this week for their accomplishments during the campaign, including recent all-league selections Brent Richards and Freddie Braun.

Including their two playoff contests, the Timbers U-23s have won 18 straight contests in 2010, including postseason victories over the Hollywood United Hitmen and Kitsap Pumas in the Western Conference finals. Portland is in position to become the first team in the PDL’s 15-year history to be an undefeated champion.

Friday's semifinal match will be broadcast live on Sportsradio 95.5 The Game, with a 30 minute pre-game show starting at 7 p.m. If the Timbers U-23s reach the title game on Saturday, that match will also be broadcast on 95.5 The Game. A live video webstream of both semifinal matches and the third-place match will be available online at www.usllive.com.

ABOUT READING UNITED AC
Reading United AC, based in Reading, Pa., ended the regular season with a record of 10-2-4 (34pts) and captured the Mid-Atlantic Division title. The No. 4 seed in the tournament, Reading United claimed the Eastern Conference championship with a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Fury last weekend. Led by leading scorer Luke Mulholland, Reading United had four different players score four goals during the regular season. Goalkeeper Jeremy Vuolo ended the regular season tied for sixth in the PDL with five shutouts.

ABOUT BATON ROUGE CAPITALS

After a 4-8-4 record in 2009, the Baton Rouge Capitals put together a turnaround season in 2010, reaching the PDL final four in their first postseason appearance in the club’s three-year history. The runner-up in the Southeast Division, the Capitals (9-2-3, 30pts) knocked off the unbeaten Mississippi Brilla 3-2 in the Southern Conference title match to clinch a berth in the finals. The roster for Baton Rouge, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, features All-Southern Conference forward Ben Callon, who led the team in scoring, and all-league defender Joe Tait.

ABOUT THUNDER BAY CHILL
The 2008 PDL-champion Thunder Bay Chill (12-2-2, 38pts) return to the league’s final four in 2010. Their road to the finals included winning both the Heartland Division and Central Conference championships. From Ontario, Canada, the Chill is led by the 2010 PDL scoring champion, Brandon Swartzendruber, who scored a league-high 15 goals, and PDL assist leader Gustavo Oliveira. The No. 2 seed in the final four tournament, Thunder Bay defeated the Michigan Bucks 2-1 in the conference final to punch their ticket to Portland.