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Portland Timbers

by: , SCHMETZER

Next: The Timbers meet Seattle at 7 p.m. Saturday at PGE Park. The Sounders are 0-0-1 in defense of their league title after a 1-1 draw at Charleston.

• Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer, on the first week of play: 'Our goalkeeper (Chris Eylander) was outstanding. He was the best goalkeeper in the league last year. The rest of the team played dead average. (Portland coach) Gavin (Wilkinson) would probably feel the same way about his first result (a 1-0 win over Puerto Rico); his team probably wasn't firing on all cylinders, either.

'But my teams, other than in my first year, have been notorious slow starters. So if we don't get the hang of it the first five games, nobody's going to panic.'

• Former Timber midfielder Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar's stoppage-time assist helped Seattle avoid defeat at the Battery. 'He's been a huge success for us,' Schmetzer says. 'In case the Portland fans have forgotten last year's championship game -which I'm sure some of them weren't watching, especially the ones who sit behind the goal, because they couldn't stomach the thought of us winning (the title) - Hugo was fantastic that day. He assisted on the first goal and scored the second on an absolute bomb; I thought that was what really deflated Atlanta.'

• Seattle is leaving the United Soccer Leagues after this season, as the city begins play in Major League Soccer next year. 'For the USL, having no Portland-Seattle rivalry is going to be a big loss,' Schmetzer says. 'We're hoping that sooner or later, Portland can move up, too, and we can rekindle it.'

• Portland plays at Qwest Field on May 10 (the Sounders' home opener) and ends the three-game, regular-season series Aug. 7 at PGE Park. Seattle has a 15-10-4 edge since Portland joined the USL in 2001.

• Schmetzer has said that five to eight of his current players could play for MLS Seattle and that eight to 10 could be somewhere in the MLS next year.

'The top half of my roster is better than the bottom half of an MLS roster,' he adds, 'and you could say that about a lot of USL teams.'

- Steve Brandon