Timbers face Puerto Rico in 2007 season opener

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers open the 2007 USL First Division season Saturday when they face the Puerto Rico Islanders at PGE Park at 7 p.m. The Islanders (1-0-0, 3pts) earned a 2-1 victory over Rochester in their season opener April 13. The Timbers are 2-4-0 in season openers since the club joined the USL First Division in 2001.

The Timbers are 3-2-0 all-time against Puerto Rico and have yet to lose to the Islanders in three meetings at PGE Park. Last season, the Timbers were 1-1-0 against Puerto Rico. In their last meeting, the Timbers defeated the Islanders 3-0 at PGE Park on Aug. 18, 2006.

In season openers, the Timbers are 2-2-0 at home and have won their last two (2004 and 2005) at PGE Park. In 2004, the Timbers defeated the Seattle Souders 2-1 and shutout the Toronto Lynx 3-0 in 2005. The Timbers fell 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2006 season opener at Swangard Stadium in Vancouver, B.C.

After five weeks of preseason training, the Timbers start the USL First Division season Saturday. Under the leadership of new head coach and general manager Gavin Wilkinson, the Timbers have 13 new players on the 2007 roster; with seven players returning from the 2006 season. Wilkinson makes his professional coaching debut Saturday after serving the last two seasons as a player/assistant coach for former coaches Bobby Howe and Chris Agnello.

Last weekend, the Timbers swept their final two preseason matches against the University of Portland Pilots and Vancouver. Former UP alum and Timbers defender Garrett Marcum scored a goal in a 2-1 win over the Pilots on April 13 at Merlo Field. Tied at 0-0 at the end of regulation, the Timbers defeated the Whitecaps 5-4 on penalties on April 15 in Milwaukie, Ore., in the Preseason Cup held by Portland Parks and Recreation.

In 2006, the Timbers finished with a record of 7-15-6 (27pts) the club’s first losing season since it joined United Soccer Leagues in 2001.

The Puerto Rico Islanders (1-0-0, 3pts) kicked off the 2007 USL First Division season with a 2-1 win over the Rochester Raging Rhinos in Puerto Rico on April 13. Scoring for the Islanders were Panamanian National Team member, Victor Herrera, and Alen Marcina, who finished the 2006 season third in the USL with 13 goals.

The Islanders have three former Timbers on their roster, most notably goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Saunders, who played for the Timbers while on loan from Major League Soccer clubs from 2003-2006, is the Timbers all-time leader in saves (334), wins (41) and shutouts (22). Other former Timbers include midfielders Noah Delgado (2002) and Edwin Miranda (2004-2006). All three started for the Islanders on April 13.

Puerto Rico finished the 2006 season with a record of 10-10-8 (38pts) and earned a playoff birth for the first time in team history before falling to the Charleston Battery in the first round.

For more information on the Puerto Rico Islanders, visit www.puertoricoislandersfc.com