Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

PortlandTimbers

Next: Portland opens its 28-game regular season at home against Puerto Rico (7 p.m. Saturday). The Timbers split two games with the Islanders last year and lead the all-time series 3-2 (2-0 at PGE Park). Games two and three are at Seattle May 5 and home versus the Sounders May 11. … The Islanders are 1-0 this year after knocking off visiting Rochester 2-1 on Friday. …. Puerto Rico has former Timber Josh Saunders in goal. Other top players are defender Mauricio Segovia from Chile and forward Alen Marcina (fourth in the league with 13 goals last year) from Canada.

• Coach-General Manager Gavin Wilkinson is adding more of what he might call physical presence at his former position. The Timbers plan to have 6-4, 200-pound defender Justin Thompson from North Vancouver, British Columbia, on board, probably after the opener. Thompson starred at forward for Fairfield University and was the seventh overall pick (by Toronto) in the 2002 A-League draft. He comes to Portland after 97 games with Worcester City, which plays just below England's 92-club Football League.

• Green is the color, but blue-collar is the catch phrase for this year's team. 'No superstars, no big-name players,' goalie Bayard Elfvin says.

The work ethic comes from the top, the players say, pointing to Wilkinson. 'He emphasizes hard work, day in and day out, just get it done, no questions asked,' defender Cameron Knowles says.

• Knowles is from Auckland, New Zealand, not far from where Wilkinson grew up. 'Stupid of me to come all the way to the other side of the world to play for a guy from New Zealand, isn't it?' Knowles jokes.

• New forward Chris Bagley played with Paul Conway, former Timber and son of ex-Timber assistant coach Jimmy Conway, for three years, including when Charleston won the league title in 2003. 'He was like a mentor,' Bagley says.

• Ace defender Scot Thompson could play some in the middle, although he appears to be in line for his preferred right fullback position again this year. 'I like playing on the outside because I get to go forward. I like middle because I get to organize the defense,' he says.

Thompson, 26, expects to graduate in June from UCLA. He's taking final classes here for his degree in sociology.

• Former Timber forward Yuri Morales is playing for the expansion California Victory, while serving as the team's account executive, selling sponsorships. Portland will play California five times this season.

- Steve Brandon