Major League Soccer adds Portland franchise
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland will join Major League Soccer in 2011 along with Vancouver, British Columbia, as the league expands to 18 teams.
The Seattle Sounders became the 15th team Thursday, beating the New York Reds Bulls 3-0 in their opener. The Philadelphia area was awarded a 2010 expansion team last year, and Vancouver on Wednesday was picked to become MLS's second Canadian team, following Toronto.
Portland's team, will be known as the Timbers, keeping the same name as the city's United Soccer Leagues franchise. The MLS team will have the same owner, Merritt Paulson, the 36-year-old son of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
"Portland has the most passionate soccer fans in the country, as we can see today," Paulson told a chanting, cheering crowd of fans decked out in the Timbers' bright green.
The Timbers will also keep their downtown home at PGE Park, but will no longer share it with the Triple-A Portland Beavers baseball team, which Paulson also owns.
Portland city officials approved a financing deal last week that would renovate PGE Park for soccer and build a new ballpark for the Beavers. The city still must come up with a plan to raise $15 million of an estimated $89 million needed for the project.
MLS commissioner Don Garber said losing candidates St. Louis and Ottawa would be considered for expansion in 2012.