The Portland Timbers announced this morning that Gavin Wilkinson was no longer the team's general manager; instead, the 16-year veteran of the organization was given a new title -- President of Soccer -- and a new, long-term contract at the position.
Currently overseeing the Timbers, Portland Thorns, Portland Timbers 2, Portland Timbers U-23s, and Portland Timbers Academy, Wilkinson's scope of responsibility has grown exponentially over the last six years since the Timbers joined MLS and he moved into the general manager role for the side.
In that role Wilkinson has gained a reputation as an innovator and a shrewd dealer when it comes to navigating the sometime byzantine Major League Soccer roster and salary cap rules. Wilkinson has also brought that same skill set to the fledgling world of the National Women's Soccer League, pulling off moves like the still-unfolding Alex Morgan trade.
Still, Wilkinson's presence has been a point of contention for some fans of the team following his early years as the USL-era Timbers' head coach and general manager that saw several clashes between the front office and fans over the direction of the club and its support. The "GWOUT" movement has continued through the Timbers' time in MLS, particularly gaining traction during the disastrous 2012 season that saw the Timbers finish second-to-last in the Western Conference.
The Timbers press release:
TIMBERS SIGN GAVIN WILKINSON TO LONG-TERM CONTRACT
Sixteen-year veteran of organization named President of Soccer for club
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that the club has signed Gavin Wilkinson to a long-term contract as the club’s President of Soccer. A 16-year veteran of the organization, Wilkinson first joined the Timbers in 2001 and has served in a number of capacities with the club in that time, including player, coach and general manager.
"Gavin has been doing first-rate work for this club for a long time – from scouting talent to cap management gymnastics to setting up our youth development infrastructure – and we have benefited immeasurably from his services," said Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. "His new title better reflects the size and scope of his oversight with the Timbers and Thorns, and his new contract has been well earned and is mutually advantageous."
Serving as the team’s general manager since 2007, Wilkinson oversees all soccer-related functions of the Timbers, T2, Portland Thorns FC, Portland Timbers U-23s and the Portland Timbers Academy, including a full-time soccer staff that has more than doubled under his watch, from 19 in 2011 to 43 today. During his tenure as general manager with the organization, the club has won MLS Cup in 2015, an NWSL championship with Thorns FC in 2013 and a national championship with the Timbers U-23s in 2010.
"I am excited and honored by this opportunity to continue what we have all started," Wilkinson said. "My family and I have been privileged to call Portland and this club home for the last 16 years, and I very much appreciate the confidence Timbers owner Merritt Paulson has shown in what we’ve all built, as well as the direction of the club.
"We have a tremendous, dedicated staff in place, highlighted by MLS Cup-winning coach Caleb Porter and his coaching staff’s long-term commitment to the club. I am looking forward to being a part of the continued growth and success of the Timbers and Thorns, and I’m excited by the future of this club."
Wilkinson, 42, has formed the Timbers’ deeply integrated, vertical development system, which includes T2, the Timbers U-23s and Timbers Academy teams (U-18, U-16 and U-14). He was instrumental in establishing an innovative partnership with Oregon Youth Soccer Association, which encompasses the statewide Olympic Development Program and regional training centers, as well as the adidas Timbers Alliance program.
First joining the club as a player for the Timbers’ A-League side in 2001, Wilkinson was the USL team’s head coach and general manager from 2007-10, assembling a 50-29-39 record over those four seasons in the USL First Division/USSF Division-2 Pro League as a two-time USL First Division Coach of the Year (2007, 2009). He guided the club to one Commissioner’s Cup, three Cascadia Cups and three postseason berths, including its only semifinals appearances as a second-division club in 2007 and 2009.
Wilkinson led the Timbers to one of the best seasons in USL First Division history in 2009, including a record-setting, 24-game unbeaten streak and winning the Commissioner’s Cup. The Timbers set a new single-season, league record with the impressive streak (14-0-10), surpassing the previous mark of 15 games set in 2005 and ranking among the longest such streaks in U.S. soccer history.
A New Zealand international who earned 38 caps, Wilkinson’s 13-year professional playing career included time with clubs in six different countries, including Portugal, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. A defender, he joined the reborn Timbers for their inaugural United Soccer Leagues season in 2001, playing in each of the club’s first six seasons and serving the dual role as a player/assistant coach from 2005-06. He finished his playing career ranked among the Timbers’ USL franchise career leaders in games (124) and minutes played (10,181).
Wilkinson and his wife, Heather, have two children, Kienan (12) and Brooke (9).