(Seattle, WA) - The Seattle Sounders Professional Soccer Club is gearing up for the 2002 season that begins this weekend with a home-and-home series against the Portland Timbers on May 4th and 5th. The Sounders were 2-1-1 when facing the Timbers last season.
Saturday's game, played at PGE Park in Portland, will be broadcast live on Fox Sports World (8 p.m. PST) per an off season agreement with the United Soccer Leagues, Sportsio and Fox Sports. Sunday's contest takes place at Seattle Memorial Stadium. Kick-off is set for 5 p.m.
New head coach Brian Schmetzer and first-year general manager Adrian Hanauer have assembled a team that features several new faces. Brian Ching, a 2001 member of both the Sounders and the Los Angeles Galaxy, brings a consistent scoring presence. Returning to the Sounders after a year with the Timbers, forward Darren Sawatzky adds to the scoring threat and Andrew Gregor brings more MLS experience after playing with the Kansas City Wizards last season.
Nate Daligcon, fresh off an A-League Championship with the Rochester Rhinos, comes back home to suit up with the Sounders. Other new faces include Danny Huet and Zach Scott from Gonzaga University, Zach Kingsley and Greg Foisie from the University of Washington and Hispanic players David Hernandez and Alex Chirinos.
Schmetzer's team also features veterans from last year including defensive stalwarts Scott Jenkins, Kieran Barton, Ryan Edwards and Chad Brown. The midfield is deep and includes 2001 Sounder MVP Leighton O'Brien, Viet Nguyen, Jason Farrell and Gregor. Returning forwards Kyle Smith and Craig Tomlinson will add to Ching's and Sawatzky's presence.
Preston Burpo is back as starting goalkeeper with Carlos Castellanos and Rich Cullen battling for back-up responsibilities.
Saturday and Sunday's games carry more weight due to U.S. Open Cup ramifications. Both Seattle and Portland will try to win their way into Open Cup play with victories over the weekend.
The Sounders finished the preseason with a 4-2 record and won the Canterbury Classic Preseason Tournament after beating the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers in a seven-day span.
For more information on the Sounders opening games visit www.SeattleSounders.net.