Major League Soccer camps are in full swing and the 2007 MLS season is now just weeks away. The Chicago Fire have been training in Florida for the past few weeks, and are now in sunny California. With the Fire on their 35-man preseason roster is goalkeeper Josh Saunders, a regular in the net for the Timbers for the past four seasons.
Saunders has recently appeared in two preseason matches against MLS sides – the Columbus Crew on Feb. 10and Kansas City Wizards on Feb. 22. On March 1, Fire head coach Dave Sarachan and his staff needed to trim their list of players down to the league-mandated, 28-man roster that will take them into the season. There has been no official word yet from the Fire on Saunders status with the club.
On loan from the L.A. Galaxy in 2005 and 2006, Saunders was 5-11-5 in 22 matches with the Timbers last season. Saunders arrived in Portland during the 2003 season, on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes, and is the Timbers’ all-time leader in saves (334), wins (40), and shutouts (22). He was released by the Galaxy in early February.
The Fire play six more preseason matches through the end of March. More information on the Chicago Fire’s preseason is available at www.chicago-fire.com.
Other Timbers in MLS Updates:
Defender Mike Chabala (2006) has played in three preseason matches for the Houston Dynamo gearing up for the 2007 season with the defending MLS Cup Champions. Chabala played in eight matches for the Timbers in 2006.
Defender Mike Randolph (2006) scored a goal for the L.A. Galaxy in their 4-0 blowout of the Bermudan National Team on Feb. 23 in Bermuda. Randolph, who signed with the Galaxy last September, was a rookie of the year finalist for the Timbers in 2006.
Forward Alan Gordon (2004, 2006) scored a goal for the L.A. Galaxy in a scrimmage against UCLA on Feb. 15. He got the start in a 3-1 preseason loss to the New England Revolution on Feb. 21 in Bermuda. Gordon scored 18 goals for the Timbers in 2004, and made one appearance late in the 2006 season on loan from the Galaxy.
The Timbers’ 2007 first-round draft pick, Lyle Martin from Cal-State Bakersfield, has been in camp with Chivas USA for the past few weeks. He has appeared in three preseason matches including a start in a 2-0 win over U.C. Riverside. On Feb. 24, Martin scored a goal in Chivas USA’s 5-0 victory over the Fresno Fuego of the PDL. Martin was Chivas USA’s third round pick in the 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft in January.