Hey there lovely people! There's another MLS2PDX task force meeting on Tuesday the 6th, but there's enough Player news, MLS Expansion news and sundry items about the Timbers blogosphere for another roundup before the meeting.
So watch out Chris Berman, I'm going to run roughshod over your career of nonsensical gesticulations and catch phrases, after the jump:

Chris Brown Retires! Chris finished his career after one season with Portland Timbers after a sterling college career at the University of Portland, and 10 years as a professional with 5 American clubs, starting with the MLS Kansas City Wizards. Chris was a classy player and a solid professional; he will be sorely missed. Veteran leadership is especially important at the lower levels of soccer, like the USL, as many of the players are very green (no pun intended) and benefit greatly from playing with veterans.

Brownie's departure means that (by the count on the Timbers Army message board) the Timbers have six players and one coach under contract for next year so far. The Timbers have not yet picked up next year's option on Forward Takayuki Suzuki, who scored one cracker...

...but otherwise sucked and sulked his way through the season like Eeyore the morning after a rave.

6 players ain't enough to field a team, so lucky for us, the Swedish interwho comes to our rescue, announcing a 7th player under contract: Johan Claesson, who has confirmed to his (now former) club, Gefle IF in the Swedish top league that he has signed a contract with the Timbers for 2009, with an option for 2010. I may be a cunning linguist, but I don't speak any Swedish, so lets have fun with Google Translator, eh?

"De hade ett publiksnitt på runt 9 000 per match, och i staden finns ju egentligen bara ett basketlag av hög klass att konkurrera med idrottsligt."
"They had an average audience of about 9 000 per match, and the city is really just a basketlag high quality to compete with sporting.
Google Reader: Facilitating multi-lingual misunderstanding since 2003.
The Swedish Chef™ has played in and around the Swedish top league since 2005 and completed law school during downtime in the last few seasons. It's hard for anyone to predict how Laesson might fare with the Timbers. Foreign signings are common in all levels of professional footie, but unlike higher levels, where clubs have networks of scouts that will travel pretty much anywhere on the rumor of a 5 year old phenom, lack of scouting funds in the doldrums of the USL often means a team will sign a player knowing little about their style or ability beyond a few hushed conversations with (often shady) agents in far away places. Then again, who knows? He...Could...Go...All.... The... Way!

Seven players is barely enough to avoid automatically forfeiting every game, so expect more signings. There have been no new rumblings in the previously reported Declan O'Brien sweepstakes, so we must wait and see who ends up in the Green and White come Spring.

MLS Expansion news
It got cloudy in Philly. Timbers Army denizens Finnegan and Daaaaave foretold of such trouble in September on the 107 Report, and lo and behold, the Philly organization's CEO/GM is Rumblin' Bumblin' and Stumblin' in, around and through the Chester County government about funding and expanding the "tax free commercial zone" around the stadium site.

"I wish we could give you hard commitments today, but we're not even sure the stadium is going to be built," he told the Delaware County Times. "If the [financial] markets tank next month, then we won't build this thing. We'll be out $15 million and everyone goes home."
The Philly expansion franchise was awarded in 2007, and the as-yet-unnamed team is scheduled to start playing in 2010. The stadium broke ground December 10th, but as the quote above suggests, hard times are afoot. If the Philly franchise fails to launch, the likelihood that the Miami's demand to start playing in 2010 may be honored, meaning Atlanta, Ottawa, Portland, St. Louis and Vancouver and are left battling for the two 2011 expansion slots. Which really means that it's down to PDX, St. Louis, and Vancouver.

Task Force Meeting #2
After snowpocalypse caused the cancellation of the December 23rd meeting of the MLS/AAA stadia plan Task Force, Meeting #2's understudy, 'Meeting #3' will be performing in its stead. Meeting #3 is expected to perform as well as Meeting #2 would have, and directors are not concerned. Meeting #3's debut as Meeting #2 is scheduled for January 6th, at 4pm at City Hall.

Back back back back back back ... GONE!
I'm moving out of Portland for a while, so this is your official invitation to work with me as the Timbers Blogger team for the 2009 season. I will be watching matches via USL Live and putting in my two cents when i feel the urge, but the Army experience needs documenting, as does on-the-ground reporting about the MLS2PDX drive. If you are interested in blogging about the Timbers, send in a writing sample of some sort, and some reasons why you should join the team for the 2009 season. Send your submissions in soon!