Timbers pick two in First Division College Draft

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers selected forward Justin Cook from Ohio State University and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy of UC-Santa Barbara with their two picks in the 2005 USL First Division College Player Draft, held via conference call from the league’s headquarters in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday.

Portland picked Cook with its first pick at No. 12 and Kennedy with its second selection at No. 24 in the draft, which consisted of two open rounds.

Both players were invites to last week’s MLS Player Combine at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Cook, 24, was named the 2004 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year while amassing a team-high 30 points (12g, 6a) during his senior season with the Buckeyes. The Winter Springs, Fla., native was a third team All-America selection in 2004 after leading the Big Ten Conference in scoring during league play.

The second all-time leading goal scorer in Ohio State history with 33 strikes, Cook led the Buckeyes to three NCAA tournament appearances in the last five years.

Cook was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2000.

“Justin Cook was a premiere goal scorer in college,” said Timbers head coach Bobby Howe. “I was very impressed with his work rate and mobility at the recent combine.”

Cook played four seasons for the Central Florida Kraze of USL’s Premiere Development League and one season for the PDL’s Columbus Stars.

Also a 2004 third team All-America selection, Kennedy, 22, was named the Big West Conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year for the second consecutive season after allowing just 13 goals in 23 matches at UCSB this past season, posting a 0.55 goals-against average while collecting 84 saves.

The Gauchos made their first three NCAA tournament appearances (2002-2004) in school history with Kennedy in goal, including a trip to the 2004 College Cup, where UCSB fell 3-2 on penalty kicks to Indiana.

“Dan Kennedy has exhibited great presence, leadership qualities and ability,” said Howe. “He exuded a great deal of confidence in the NCAA College Cup event.”

A former college teammate of Portland midfielder Memo Arzate, the Yorba Linda, Calif., native played for the PDL’s Orange County Blue Stars in 2003 and 2004.

Last season, the Timbers selected 2004 A-League Rookie of the Year Alan Gordon from Oregon State with their first pick and defender Leonard Griffin from UCLA with their second selection.

In 2003, the Timbers drafted forward Ryan Coiner from the University of San Diego and goalkeeper Curtis Spiteri from the University of Portland. In 2002, the Timbers selected three University of Washington players in the draft; Portland chose Bryn Ritchie, Ben Somoza and Jake Sagare. Just prior to their inaugural 2001 season, the Timbers drafted Vadim Tolstolutsky out of Seattle Pacific.

Portland, which released its 28-game schedule last week, kicks off its fifth season on Saturday, April 23 against the Toronto Lynx at PGE Park. A variety of season ticket options are available by calling the Timbers ticket office at (503) 553-5555.