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Portland Timbers U-23s Announce First Signings of 2015

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Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers U-23s have made their first player announcements of the year, bringing in five new players, one of whom is a former Portland Timbers Academy player.

An El Salvador youth international, Romilio "Romy" Hernandez is a defensive midfielder out of the University of St. Louis where he has been a regular starter for his first two seasons with the squad. The 2014 season saw Hernandez start 18 of the Cardinals 22 matches, with the team going 9-7-3 while he was on the pitch. Hernandez has previous experience in the PDL, playing with the Orlando City U-23s during the 2014 season (highlights of one match can be found here).

James Moberg, former teammate of current Timbers first team players Taylor Peay and Andy Thoma at the University of Washington, also lines up in the middle of the pitch but tends to have a much more attacking bent to his play, having accumulated 21 assists and seven goals over the course of three seasons with the Huskies. Another player with PDL experience, Mobery has played against the U-23s before, spending the 2013 season with the Washington Crossfire. Moberg also spent a week with the U-23s themselves in 2014, taking part in the Homegrown Game before the 2014 All-Star Game at Providence Park (highlight of the Homegrown game, featuring Moberg wearing No. 10 for the U-23s, can be found here).

Even more familiar with the Timbers is Colin Partee, a graduate of the Timbers' academy and a goalkeeping revelation in the first-ever season of soccer at Utah Valley University. Averaging 4.4 saves per game with the Wolverines, Partee saved 84% of the shots he faced in 2014. A Timbers U-18s keeper through the 2013-14 season, Partee has trained with the Timbers U-23s and first team previously.

Sheldon Sullivan and Todd Wharton both come to the U-23s from 2014 NCAA National Champions, the University of Virginia. Respectively a left back and holding midfielder, Sullivan and Wharton both played significant parts in the Championship win. Sullivan, who was named to the 2014 NCAA College Cup All-Tournament team as a part of the defensive line the effectively shut down a high-flying UCLA squad in the NCAA final, has shown himself to be a steady defender despite only having completed this year as a red-shirt freshman. Wharton, a rising senior, was a consistent player in the center of the pitch for Virginia, making an appearance in all but once match that the Cavaliers have played since he joined the team.

The signings leave the U-23s with a solid foundation to build on, but with the PDL season starting next Thursday, May 14th, there will still need to be a number of other players brought in.

The Timbers' press release:

TIMBERS U-23s ANNOUNCE FIRST PLAYERS FOR 2015 SEASON
PDL side kicks off seventh season on May 14 at Providence Park

PORTLAND, Ore. –The Portland Timbers U-23s today announced the first five players for the upcoming 2015 Premier Development League (PDL) season. The Timbers U-23s begin their seventh season in the PDL on Thursday, May 14, against Lane United FC in a Providence Health & Fitness Day match at Providence Park; kickoff is set for 11 a.m. (Pacific).

Under the direction of head coach Jim Rilatt, the Timbers U-23s have added midfielders Romilio Hernandez (University of Louisville) and James Moberg (University of Washington), goalkeeper Collin Partee (Utah Valley University), and University of Virginia defender Sheldon Sullivan and midfielder Todd Wharton. Sullivan and Wharton both play for the University of Virginia, which won the 2014 NCAA National Championship.

Hernandez (Lanhem, Md.) joins the Timbers-U23s following his sophomore season at the University of Louisville. A youth international with El Salvador, the midfielder made 22 appearances and tallied one goal in his second year with the Cardinals. Hernandez has made numerous appearances for the El Salvador U-20 Men’s National Team, playing in six matches during the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championships in Jamaica and scoring the game-winning goal against Canada on Jan. 15 in the group stage. Hernandez also made one appearance at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, playing 35 minutes as a substitute against Turkey.

Moberg (Windsor, Calif.) has registered seven goals and 21 assists in 63 career matches (58 starts) in three seasons at the University of Washington and has earned consecutive All-Pac-12 second-team honors (2013, 2014). Recording six assists during his junior season in 2014, Moberg moved into a tie for 10th place on the program’s all-time career record list in assists (21). He was one of just two players to start all 20 matches for the Huskies in 2014, helping guide the team to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Partee (Camas, Wash.), a former standout in the Timbers Academy, ranked second in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and 13th nationally with an .835 save percentage in his freshman season at Utah Valley University. Partee registered 66 saves in 16 games for the Wolverines in their inaugural season, including two shutouts. The 6-foot-2 goalkeeper’s 0.81 goals-against average ranked first in the conference as Partee conceded just 13 goals in 16 appearances. With the Timbers Academy from 2012-14, Partee made 30 regular-season appearances while also helping the Timbers U-18s reach the postseason for the first-ever time during the 2013-14 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season.

Sullivan (Stafford, Va.) started all 23 games as a redshirt freshman at the University of Virginia in 2014, helping guide the Cavaliers to a win in the 2014 NCAA National Championship game that saw Virginia upset UCLA in a penalty-kick shootout. The defender was named to the 2014 NCAA College Cup All-Tournament team and was the only Cavaliers player to start all 23 games during the season. He finished first on the team with 2,174 minutes played.

Wharton (Glen Allen, Va.) earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) honors as a junior, starting 21 matches for the University of Virginia in 2014. Along with Sullivan, Wharton helped lead the Cavaliers to the 2014 NCAA National Championship. He tallied three goals and two assists in his junior season at Virginia and netted the first penalty kick in the team’s shootout win over UCLA in the title game. Named to the 2012 All-ACC Freshman team, Wharton has recorded 10 goals and five assists in 67 career games for the Cavaliers.

ABOUT TIMBERS U-23s

Founded Nov. 11, 2008, the Portland Timbers U-23s are an amateur team affiliated with the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer and serve as a development platform for the club's first team and USL side, T2. The team consists of standout players from collegiate and youth programs from Oregon, the Northwest and throughout the country, and competes in United Soccer Leagues’ Premier Development League (PDL). Since their founding, five Timbers U-23s players have signed with the first team, including goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, while T2 features former Timbers U-23s standouts forward Kharlton Belmar and midfielder Steven Evans. The Timbers U-23s assembled an historic campaign in 2010, posting a perfect 16-0-0 record during the regular season on their way to becoming the first undefeated champion in PDL history.