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Wednesday, February 13, 2002

[Timbers press release]
Portland coach ‘delighted’ with Wednesday selections

For immediate release: February 13, 2002
PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland Timbers Head Coach Bobby Howe went into Wednesday’s College Draft with a wish list of three players. To his delight, he emerged with all three and didn’t have to stray far from home, getting all three players from the University of Washington.

Howe and the Timbers selected two midfielders and a defender, using each of their three available picks in the annual A-League College Draft. The Timbers chose Bryn Ritchie, from Medford, Ore., in the first round; Ben Somoza, from Edmonds, Wash., in the second round; and Jake Sagare, from Yakima, Wash., in the third and final round.

“We have scouted University of Washington games for the last two years and were very focused on this year's senior players, Bryn Ritchie, Ben Somoza and Jake Sagare,” said Howe. “I am delighted that we were able to select these players in the draft. They were leaders at college and will be excellent additions to our squad.”

At the top of Howe’s list was Ritchie, who was previously chosen by Colorado in the third round (28th overall) of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft that was held February 10. Ritchie, a defender, was part of three consecutive conference championships at Washington. With the Huskies, he was a two-time Pac-10 first-team player and earned third-team all-America honors as a senior in 2001. In addition to his playing accolades, he was named the National Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association last month.

“Ritchie is an outstanding, dominant central defender,” said Howe. “He is strong in the tackle and is one of the best headers of the ball in the college game. His talent has also been recognized by MLS where he was recently drafted by the Colorado Rapids. As Bryn is a native of Oregon, we are quietly confident that he will be wearing our colors this season.”

Ritchie tallied 10 points on four goals and two assists in his senior season at Washington.

At South Medford High School, Ritchie earned first-team all-state and conference MVP honors as a senior after leading his team to a state title, a 15-1-1 record and a finish of 14th in the nation that year.

Ritchie was the Timbers’ territorial pick. In the first round, each A-League team had the exclusive opportunity of drafting a player from a college or high school in its draft territory, which for the Timbers included the state of Oregon.

In the second round, the Timbers selected Somoza, an experienced midfielder who led all Huskies’ scorers this past season with 17 points on five goals and seven assists. His 41 shots on goal were good for second-best on the UW team.

Somoza drew All-Pac 10 first-team honors after his junior season, in which he compiled six goals after starting all 20 games.

“Somoza is a hard working, forceful midfield player with excellent all-round ability,” Howe said. “He is both a leader and a winner.”

The Timbers rounded out their draft-day selections with Sagare, a midfielder who had four points on two goals and 21 shots on goal this season for the Huskies. After limited action in his freshman season of 1998, Sagare saw a marked increase in offensive production after assuming a starting position as a sophomore.

“Sagare is a natural wide player who is equally effective on either flank,” added Howe. “He has outstanding speed, excellent dribbling ability and is a first-class crosser of the ball."

The Huskies finished the 2001 season with a record of 13-6-0 overall and 4-4-0 in the Pac-10. After receiving a first-round bye, the Huskies met Northwest-rival Portland in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where the Pilots won, 1-0, at Husky Soccer Field in Seattle.

posted by the timberlog at 2:53 PM

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