PORTLAND, Ore. – In an unprecendented move by a USL Championship club, the Portland Timbers Friday announced that Portland Timbers 2 will forgo the upcoming 2021 season.
T2 will go on hiatus for one season while the Timbers work closely with Major League Soccer on a solution for competition in the post-formation period (players 18-23 years old) as part of the professional player pathway.
It was not immediately known whether other USL Championship clubs that are owned and operated by MLS teams will follow suit.
“The Timbers have had a longstanding and productive relationship with USL, one that provided us the platform to enter MLS, and for that we are extremely appreciative,” Timbers general manager and president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson said in a statement. “With the inability to share players between T2 and the first team due to COVID this season we have been unable to use this platform for player development as we would have hoped and we don’t expect that to change in 2021. We are working closely with MLS to complete the pro player pathway for the post-formation period in 2022 and are excited to disclose more details at the appropriate time.”
The Hillsboro Hops will continue running the business operations for T2 in 2022 after the club returns from hiatus. The Timbers will continue to own T2 and manage soccer operations for the club, with matches being played at Hillsboro Stadium.
“We are excited to continue our terrific partnership with the Hillsboro Hops in 2022,” Timbers president of business Mike Golub said in a statement. “Further aligning our development program with Major League Soccer will be great for our supporters and create exciting business opportunities as we and the Hops bring Timbers soccer closer to our fans on the west side.”
T2 played six seasons in the USL’s first division (2015-20) and is part of the Timbers’ comprehensive vertical development structure that creates a bridge between the Timbers Academy and the Timbers first team.