The Portland Timbers announced today they are expanding into the USL Pro league, adding a team Timbers 2 – cordially known as “T2” – to be a direct feeder club.
Timbers 2 will play at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field and will train in the first team facility at Timbers Training Center in Beaverton, Oregon.
“I believe that MLS clubs with their own USL PRO teams in-market will have a competitive advantage on a number of levels,” said Timbers CEO/owner Merritt Paulson.
T2 will be one of seven expansion teams to open play in the 2015 USL Pro season, with others being in Austin, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Louisville, St. Louis and Tulsa. The release also said “more are expected soon.”
A reporter during the press conference asked if there was an “arms race” taking place within Major League Soccer with regards to using USL Pro feeder teams to bypass some salary restrictions within the league.
General Manager Gavin Wilkinson joked “we’ll win that race” in a somewhat awkward moment, but Paulson expanded, making direct reference to using USL Pro teams to bypass Designated Player rules, saying that MLS is looking to iron out the final rules.
In addition, the team announced recently that they have extended their partnership with kit sponsor Alaska Air, saying they have inked a “multi-year deal.” They also released an incredibly cheesy video to usher in the renewal. That music makes me want to puke, even if it does have some meaning to the club and supporters.