Portland Timbers


Forward Mamba Chisoni, who played for Portland last season, is not likely to return soon. 'We were trying to secure him but have run into obstacles,' says Gavin Wilkinson, coach and general manager. Chisoni is from Zimbabwe and Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. 'He's putting emphasis on finishing his degree, and there are visa issues,' Wilkinson says.

• When L.A. Galaxy forward Alan Gordon went down with a stress fracture a couple of weeks ago, it threw a wrench into Portland's plans. 'I was hoping to pick up a forward (from L.A.),' Wilkinson says. The Timbers still hope to get a loan player, probably from the Galaxy, 'but not before the start of our season,' he says.

• Portland probably will carry 22 or 23 players; 17 were under contract as of Thursday morning. 'That's more than I originally anticipated,' Wilkinson says. 'We've been able to stretch the budget out a little bit, and it's needed, because with 22 or 23 you can afford to have a few players go through a rough patch or get injured.' The Timbers plan to add 'a few foreign players' to the roster, although 'I think we have a good mix at the moment,' Wilkinson says.

• The coach liked what he saw in a 1-0 win over Oregon State on Wednesday. 'For the first time, I can say there were signs everything we're working on is taking shape. The boys played well and looked a lot more organized, a lot more disciplined.' Asked who in particular performed well, Wilkinson named both goalkeepers (Bayard Elfvin and Josh Wicks); defenders Cameron Knowles and Kevin Meissner; and midfielders Neil Dombrowski, Andrew Gregor, Kiki Lara and Troy Ready. 'A lot of players did well,' he says. 'Every position is still open.'

• The preseason ends with matches at 7 tonight at Merlo Field against the University of Portland and at 4 p.m. Sunday at Alder Creek Middle School against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

- Steve Brandon