At a mid-morning press conference today the Portland Timbers announced the team's new USL PRO affiliate, the "Portland Timbers FC 2". The new team will start playing next year at the University of Portland's Merlo Field.
Team owner Merritt Paulson and team general manager Gavin Wilkinson were joined on stage by UP athletics director Scott Leykam for the press conference.
Paulson spoke first, telling the press that the Timbers will potentially be one of just six teams in MLS with a USL PRO team in their home market.
"We are going to have a significant advantage having this team here in our market," Paulson said, emphasizing the ability of Caleb Porter and the rest of the first team coaching staff to oversee the growth and development of the T2 players.
Wilkinson elaborated on the point, talking about the Timbers' ability to bring in young professional players that would not be able to play in the current U-23s side, which will remain intact as another avenue to bring players along. According to Wilkinson, the Timbers will need to strike a balance between young players on T2 and older players who could potentially make a more immediate impact or provide leadership to the team.
While the confirmation that T2 would play next season is good, there are still a number of questions up in the air about the team. The head coach, Wilkinson said, has not yet been signed by the team, but they are close to signing a
player coach that is well known around the country. Additionally, a number of the details about the roster and schedule have yet to be ironed out as MLS and USL continue their integration.