Soccer City, USA will have another pro team to root for next season.
The Portland Timbers officially announced the launch of a new club this morning that will compete in USL PRO—the league below Major League Soccer that once fielded the Timbers themselves.
The team, "Timbers 2" (or "T2", as
James Cameron the Timbers will refer to it) will play at University of Portland's Merlo Field beginning next season and provide their MLS big bros a "significant competitive advantage," according to owner Merritt Paulson.
"This represents a really big investment," Paulson said, while also announcing the 1975 Trust Program, which will give the first 1,975 supporters who purchase season tickets to T2's inaugural season "ownership-like privileges" to "weigh in on team decisions" including helping choose kits on match day, weighing in on food and beverage options available at home games, and shaping the creative direction on club design projects and club meetings. As of 12:45, more than 1,000 season tickets had been purchased.
Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson also spoke at the press conference. He noted that adding a coach for T2 was already in the works, but that the new team will essentially mirror the environment set up by MLS Timbers coach Caleb Porter, including a shared playing philosophy, style and system.
"It gives us an opportunity to bring these players in when they're young and we can affect their development and get them to learn about the club," Wilkinson said. "And also to learn if these are player who can represent our club at the highest level."
Video of the announcement press conference and full press release after the jump.
From the Timbers:
The Portland Timbers today announced that the club has formed Timbers 2 (to be referred to as T2), a professional team that will compete in USL PRO, a division of US Soccer below Major League Soccer.
T2 will begin competing in USL PRO during the 2015 season and play their home games at Merlo Field on the campus of the University of Portland. The team will train at the club’s adidas Timbers Training Center in Beaverton, Ore.
“I believe that MLS clubs with their own USL PRO teams in-market will have a competitive advantage on a number of levels,” said Merritt Paulson, owner/CEO of the Timbers. “This is a big investment for us and signifies our commitment to winning.”
Season ticket deposits are now being accepted at www.timbers2.com or by calling (503) 553-5555. Supporters season tickets start at just $8 per game, and the club is accepting $25 refundable deposits at this time.
With the launch of the T2 USL PRO club, the team is offering supporters an unprecedented opportunity to engage with and influence the new club through their 1975 Trust program. The 1975 Trust gives supporters the chance to be a T2 founding member and to help shape the direction of the club from the beginning. There is no cost to join the 1975 Trust, and enrollment is open only during the inaugural season to the first 1,975 people who purchase season tickets. Members of the 1975 Trust will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of team decisions and activities, such as choosing team kits on match day, helping choose the food and beverage options available at home games, helping shape the creative direction on club design projects and the ability to attend club meetings.
Additional benefits of being a member of the 1975 Trust include special discounts at food and merchandise stands at Merlo Field, access to pre- and postgame hospitality areas, select team personnel question-and-answer sessions and commemorative memorabilia each season.
"This is an exciting opportunity to grow a valuable partnership between the University of Portland and the Portland Timbers,” said Scott Leykam, University of Portland athletic director. “Part of being Soccer City, USA means working collaboratively at every level and this is just the latest example of the commitment this community has to growing the game of soccer. We are excited to be associated with one of the most progressive organizations in professional sports and look forward to working closely with the Timbers moving forward at one of the top collegiate soccer venues in the nation."
The T2 logo, unveiled for the first time Tuesday during a news conference at Providence Park in Portland, features a unique mixture of the current Timbers brand, while paying tribute to past iterations of the club in both the second division and North American Soccer League (NASL). The badge features the iconic Timbers MLS axe enclosed in a circle, representing unity, wholeness and the club’s pursuit of perfection. Behind the axe, the badge pays homage to the club’s history by incorporating the original and iconic chevron patter included in the first-ever Timbers mark. Furthermore, the typeface on the number in the badge is part of the same font family as the numbers found on the original 1975 Portland Timbers NASL kits.
Additional T2 announcements are expected in the coming weeks and months as the club prepares for its first season in USL PRO.
ABOUT USL PRO
USL PRO is the strongest U.S. men’s professional soccer league on and off the field below and in support of Major League Soccer (MLS). Focused on league stability and franchise performance longevity, USL PRO featured 14 teams in 2014, including expansion teams in Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Sacramento. Teams have already been announced for 2015 in Austin, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Louisville, St. Louis and Tulsa, with more additions expected soon. Through aggressive and deliberate growth in adding teams fully capable of meeting USL and US Soccer standards, USL PRO is building a robust, national professional soccer league in a format that promotes the benefits of regional league play. In 2013 USL PRO began a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS that features individual team affiliations, inter-league play, and the opportunity for MLS clubs to field a second team in USL PRO. In addition to league play, USL PRO teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions. USL PRO is the longest-standing pro league affiliate member of US Soccer.