Timbers name Chris Agnello head coach/general manager

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers today announced that Chris Agnello (ah-NELL-o), a veteran United Soccer Leagues coach and administrator with an impressive array of soccer experience at a variety of youth and professional levels, has been named the franchise’s new head coach/general manager. Timbers president John Cunningham made the announcement to local media at the Multnomah Athletic Club overlooking PGE Park, home of the USL First Division team.

Most recently, Agnello, 37, served as an assistant coach with Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. There, Agnello assisted with the training and coaching of Real Salt Lake’s first team and reserve team during the franchise’s inaugural 2005 season.

“It’s with great excitement that we welcome Chris to the Timbers organization today,” Cunningham said. “He is very passionate about the game of soccer and offers a great deal of experience in all of the areas we were looking for in a new coach and general manager.”

Prior to joining Real Salt Lake, Agnello helped establish the Utah Blitzz of United Soccer Leagues. While assuming both the general manager and head coaching duties for the Blitzz franchise, Agnello led the team to five conference titles and two league championships in five seasons. In 2001, he guided the Blitzz to a D3 Pro League (now USL Second Division) championship and duplicated the feat by guiding the Blitzz to a second title in 2004.

Agnello, the D3 Pro League’s Coach of the Year in 2002, compiled a 64-21-11 regular-season record over five seasons (2000-04) with the Blitzz, with his “building-from-the-back” coaching philosophy reflected in the that fact that his team annually ranked among the league leaders in fewest goals allowed and most goals scored.

As the chief administrator for the Blitzz on and off the field, Agnello and his staff were honored by USL as the Organization of the Year after the team’s inaugural 2000 season. Under his direction, the Blitzz consistently ranked near the top of the league in attendance, leading the Second Division in 2003 and 2004.

Agnello, who focused on coaching and sports management while earning a masters degree in exercise and sports science at the University of Utah in 1998, will be responsible for scouting; player acquisition and signings; technical, tactical and physical training of the team; development and implementation of Timbers soccer camps and clinics; and the overall business operation of the Timbers.

“The development of the game in the U.S. has come a long way in the last 10 years,” Agnello said. “However, there is still a lot to do. Having served as both GM and head coach with the Blitzz, I feel confident in building on the success of the Portland Timbers, both on and off the field.”

Agnello comes to the Timbers with a wealth of experience with youth soccer development. In addition to his duties with Real Salt Lake and the Blitzz, Agnello was the director of Spence Eccles Field House in Salt Lake City, managing the $6-million indoor facility and directing its soccer program, which included more than 15,000 youth recreation players.

Additionally, Agnello developed the Jr. Blitzz recreation program and was the coaching director for Blitzz FC, Utah’s largest elite youth program, which has expanded to include more than 50 teams in Utah and Montana.

“As we set out to find the ideal candidate to fill this very important position with the Timbers, it became clear to us that Chris was the best person to not only continue the great things we’ve been able to accomplish during the team’s first five seasons, but to take the franchise to new levels in a number of areas,” Cunningham said. “We’re completely confident that Chris will do great things for the Timbers and soccer in Portland.”

As one of Utah’s top youth players, Agnello won a state championship and was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year for Utah in 1985 before earning a scholarship to play collegiate soccer for Portland’s Warner Pacific College.

He began his coaching career by winning numerous high school championships with a variety of boys and girls teams in Utah and became one of the youngest Olympic Development Program coaches, eventually ascending to the ODP regional level.

The Timbers open the 2006 season at Vancouver on Saturday, April 22, and mark their home opener against the Whitecaps at PGE Park on Friday, May 5. Season tickets, club seats, group packages, party suites, flex plans and mini-plans for the 2006 campaign are currently on sale. Timbers’ ticket plans start as low as $63 and are available by contacting the team’s ticket office at (503) 553-5555. Additional details on Timbers ticket plans and team news can be found at www.portlandtimbers.com.