U-23s head coach Jim Rillat
Craig Mitchelldyer

Timbers U-23s open 2011 season Saturday

PORTLAND, Ore. – The defending-Premier Development League champion Portland Timbers U-23s open their 2011 season on Saturday as they play host to the Victoria Highlanders at JELD-WEN Field at 1 p.m.

Tickets for Saturday’s season opener are $5 and are available for purchase at the JELD-WEN Field box office on match day, starting at 10 a.m.; gates open at 12:30 p.m.

Last season, the Timbers U-23s posted a perfect 16-0-0 record during the regular season on their way to becoming the first undefeated champion in PDL history.

The Timbers U-23s are led by 2010 PDL Coach of the Year Jim Rilatt and return nine players from their championship squad from a season ago, including 2010 PDL MVP Brent Richards and All-Western Conference defender Ryan Kawoluk.

Portland and Victoria square off in the first of two meetings in 2011. The Timbers U-23s are 3-0-1 all-time against the Highlanders and out-scored Victoria 8-1 in the two matchups in 2010. The Timbers U-23s are also unbeaten in season-opening matches (1-0-1), including a 3-1 victory over the Washington Crossfire last season at JELD-WEN Field.

The Highlanders also kick off their third season in the PDL on Saturday. Victoria finished 2010 in fourth place in the Northwest Division with a record of 7-6-3 (24pts). Among the team’s returning players is All-Western Conference midfielder Jordie Hughes.