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Portland Timbers

by: , OLUM

Next: The Timbers' second match is 7 p.m. Thursday at PGE Park against the Minnesota Thunder. It will be Minnesota's season opener, and the Thunder have to play at Vancouver on Saturday night. (For a complete story on Thursday's Portland-Puerto Rico game, go to Localnewsdaily.com.)

• Coach Gavin Wilkinson routinely has said that 23-year-old Kenyan midfielder Lawrence Olum has as much potential as anyone on the Timbers. Olum was a First Division rookie last year from Missouri Baptist in St. Louis. He played 956 minutes in 20 games, notching three goals and one assist.

'I kind of know what I'm doing this time,' Olum says. 'At the beginning of last season, I was a little bit scared, but I can control the play now, and I think I'm a little more fit.'

• What does Olum see in new attacking players Chris Brown and Takayuki Suzuki?

'A lot of goals.'

• Talking with Taka (snippets of an interview conducted with Japanese-language interpreter Robert Rice):

Tribune: How long will you stay here?

Suzuki: I'd like to be here as long as possible, certainly through the season. Then I'll decide whether I'm here or elsewhere in America. I'm not thinking of going back to any country, including Japan. And being in the MLS doesn't matter. To me, it's really where I'm feeling best. Any place would be fine.

Tribune: You're 31, how has your game changed since, say, you scored in the 2002 World Cup?

Suzuki: I don't feel like there's much difference.

Tribune: What are your other interests?

Suzuki: I like to travel and experience new places. I also enjoy motorcycles and cars, driving fast. Right now, I don't have a car here, but I want one. Like a '65 Mustang.

Tribune: What are your impressions of the U.S.?

Suzuki: I've been very interested in American culture since I visited Dallas in high school for a couple of weeks for a soccer tournament. That's part of the reason why I want to play in America, to experience the culture. I'd prefer to stay in the States when I retire. Portland seems like a very easy place to live, and very beautiful city, so it's certainly a possibility.

Tribune: Who are your favorite athletes?

Suzuki: Michael Jordan. Mark McGwire.

Tribune: Any Japanese baseball players?

Suzuki: (Hideo) Nomo. (Daisuke) Matsuzaka.

• Portland's new wide left midfielder is a Scot -29-year-old Bryan Little, from Edinburgh. The 160-pounder had eight goals in 12 matches this year with Auckland City FC in New Zealand. His final match there was last Saturday; he arrived on Sunday.

'Gavin asked the coaches in New Zealand for a left-sided player, and the coaches recommended me,' Little says. 'I've never been in America. Hopefully, this will be a good experience. It's a little higher standard than in New Zealand, but it's the same old game, I suppose.'

- Steve Brandon