Great news for fans of the women's game here in Portland, of which I count myself as one, as the Portland Timbers have officially announced a strategic partnership with the local WPSL club the Portland Rain. Up until this moment, aside from some hints and juicy tidbits of information, the Rain's future plans were entirely unknown.
In addition to the Rain announcement, the Timbers have announced a similar development program for girls soccer in conjunction with the OYSA for the ODP program. This means that Portland, and Oregon at large should begin to see some great young athletes in a few years time (hopefully). Not that I'm discounting UP's wonderful program, but professional level development does and should start earlier than college.
Here's what Gavin Wilkinson had to say about it:
"We have a deep passion for developing the sport of soccer in Oregon. It is important that the Timbers look at all ways in helping to develop the sport and the state’s soccer community. We are pleased to be able to help the Rain and look forward to working with the club as part of the adidas Timbers Alliance."
On that note, what this entails is that the Rain will have funding from the Timbers for the 2012 season so they can stay afloat. No word on what happens in the years after, but I'm assuming the Timbers FO won't simply drop them if things aren't profitable right away unless it's an emergency type situation.
Also, since they're a part of the Timbers Alliance the Rain will adorn red and white Timbers alliance kits with the Alliance patch on them. Not sure what they'll look like exactly, but I'm envisioning something similar to the Timbers Rose City red kit.
The Rain will be holding try outs this Sunday on May 6th at Clackamas Community College. So if you're interested this could be a great way to get your foot in the door.
Finally, there was no word on where the Rain would host their home games this year. I hope it's at Jeld-Wen Field given it's central location and great atmosphere, but it has not yet been announced. Regardless of where they play, I hope they get a permanent home somewhere as in seasons past they were constantly jumping around from place to place.
Thoughts? Comments? I know it's not necessarily good news for the Timbers, but I'm thrilled about having a women's team here confirmed for 2012 and beyond.
P.S. This will officially kick off our consistent Portland Rain coverage.