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February 27, 2001

Timbers Sign Fabulous Five
Sawatzky, Howes, Winters, Clarke and Tolstolutsky sign multi-year deals with Portland's expansion soccer club

Portland, Ore. - The Portland Timbers announced today the signing of the first five players for the expansion soccer club that is set to begin play this spring in the newly renovated PGE Park. Darren Sawatzky, Brian Winters, Canadian International Jeff Clarke, Greg Howes and first-round draft pick Vadim Tolstolutsky have all signed multi-year deals with the club.

"We've signed the A-League Rookie of the Year, the second leading scorer in A-League, two Olympians and an outstanding rookie prospect and we're not done yet," said Jim Taylor, Timbers vice president and general manager. "All of these guys are first-class athletes and I think Portland fans are going to be very proud to have them playing in a Timbers uniform."

Sawatzky, 28, joins the Timbers after playing last year for the Seattle Sounders. He earned first-team A-League honors finishing the season as the League's second leading scorer with 16 goals and nine assists for a total of 41 points. Sawatzky's professional career has seen him suit up for three MLS teams: New England Revolution, Dallas Burn and most recently with the Colorado Rapids. He's also played professionally in Mexico and for Leicester City in the English Premier League. A native of Federal Way, Wash., Sawatzky played collegiate soccer at the University of Portland under head coach and former Portland Timber Clive Charles.

"Howes and Sawatzky are a proven lethal strike force and I am delighted that they are playing for us and not against us in our division," said Bobby Howe. "Winters is a hard-working midfield player and will be one of the main engines driving our team. Clarke is a classy defender with great confidence, experience and leadership qualities despite his young age and Tolstolutsky is a promising young player with outstanding natural talent."

A trade between the Timbers and Minnesota Thunder brings Winters back to Portland, where he also played for Charles at the University of Portland.

"Sawatzky and Winters are two players I know very well," said Charles. "They're excellent soccer players and combined with Greg Howes and Jeff Clarke, that makes for a pretty formidable first four. All four have outstanding skill and I'm going to be very interested to see how they gel as a team. I've got a good feeling about it. It should be very exciting."

Last year Winters helped lead the Minnesota Thunder to their second straight appearance in the A-League championship game. The 23-yearold midfielder was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team from 1998-2000, playing in 15 games. He was selected as an alternate for the U.S. Olympic Qualifying Team for the recent Sydney Games. A native of Tacoma, Wash., was a two-time captain at the University of Portland and was selected to both the West Coast Conference First Team and the All Far West Region Team. Last year at midfield for Minnesota he competed in all 34 Thunder matches scoring 7 goals and adding 11 assists.

The Timbers also announced Tuesday that they have extended Howes to a multi-year contract. Portland recently acquired Howes in a trade with Seattle for the Timbers second round (No. 2 overall) and third round (No. 23 overall) picks in this year's A-League College Draft.

Howes won the Rookie of the Year award in a vote of A-League coaches using the United Soccer Leagues' statistical criteria. Howes was also named to the 2000 All A-League Second Team.

During the 2000 season, Howes played in 27 of the Sounders 28 regular season games scoring 41 points. Howes' 41 points came on a team-high 17 goals, which tied him for the Sounders team lead in points and tied for third overall in A-League scoring.

Howes, who played for Oregon State University, was the Sounders first-round draft choice in 2000. While at Oregon State, Howes played for former Portland Timber, Jimmy Conway, who is now the Timbers assistant coach.

Howes, a Tacoma, Wash. native, is currently playing on loan to the Milwaukee Wave in the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). Howes is having an outstanding indoor season and is widely considered a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honors in the NPSL.

Clarke was co-captain of the Canadian Olympic team. He also played in all five of Canada's 2000 Golf Cup game helping lead the Canadians past the Mexico National Team in the final. Clarke, a defender, is currently playing indoors for the Baltimore Blast. The 22-year old Clarke's professional career took him to St. Patrick's Athletic FC (Ireland), as well as the A-League's Vancouver Whitecaps and Hampton Road Mariners.

He also played for Canada at the FIFA World Youth (U-20) Championship in Malaysia in 1997 and was a member of the Canadian team, which won the CONCACAF Under-19 Championship in 1996. He played for Canada at the Under-17 level and competed at the 1993 FIFA/JVC Cup in Japan in 1993. He is a native of Coquitlam, B.C. and attended Simon Fraser University.

The Timbers and Tolstolutsky came to terms on a multi-year deal in time to meet the A-League's February 22 deadline for signing players selected in the college draft.

Tolstolutsky was a four-year letterman and starter at forward for Seattle Pacific University and was recently voted the team MVP. In each of his last three seasons, he was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) all-region first team and named all-Pacific West Conference. He helped lead the Falcons to four consecutive NCAA Division II playoff appearances, including a semi-final appearance in 1998, and three Pacific West Conference titles.

Tolstolutsky, 22, emigrated from Kyrgyzstan, the former Soviet republic in Central Asia, as a 15-year old in 1994. Tolstolutsky's parents, who reside in Vancouver, Wash., left Kyrgystan so that Vadim could pursue a professional career playing soccer.

Tolstolutsky was a three-year starter at Fort Vancouver High School where he led his team to a second place finish in the league. He was voted St. Helens League Most Valuable Player as a junior and senior and was picked all-league three times. He also played for two years with Oregon's state champion FC Portland.

"Last year we made a commitment that the Portland Timbers would not only be extremely competitive but would also play in a style that is effective and entertaining. Our first five signings are a clear indication that we are dedicated to meeting those objectives," added Howe.

About Portland Timbers

The Portland Timbers are an expansion franchise of the United Soccer Leagues' A-League. The return of the Portland Timbers marks the first time in nearly 10 years that men's professional soccer will be played at PGE Park. The Timbers 30-game regular season will kick-off in late April and run through early September. The season culminates with the A-League championship game the first weekend in October.

The Timbers open regular season play on the road against the El Paso Patriots on April 28. Their PGE Park home opener is set for Friday, May 11 against archrival Seattle Sounders.

Other A-League opponents include the Vancouver Whitecaps, Rochester Raging Rhinos, Atlanta Silverbacks, Minnesota Thunder, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Toronto Lynx, Milwaukee Rampage and San Diego Flash among others. For ticket information, call 503-553-5555.