PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers have signed defender/midfielder Sean McAuley and midfielder Erik Ozimek for the 2002 season, it was announced today.
Timbers head coach Bobby Howe made the announcement.
McAuley currently plays with Rochdale AFC of the English third-division football league. Previously, the 30-year-old played for several teams in Scotland and England. A native of Sheffield, England, McAuley began his career with Manchester United (1990-92) and has since played for St. Johnstone (1992-95), Chesterfield (1994), Hartlepool (1995-97), Scunthorpe (1997-2000) and Scarborough (1999).
"Sean is a natural leader," said Howe. "He will bring vast experience to our team. As he is equally comfortable at playing at the back or in the midfield, he will provide excellent options for our systems of play."
McAuley holds Europe's highest coaching degree, the UEFA "A" license. According to Howe, "Sean will be a wonderful resource for the youth soccer community."
Ozimek, a fourth-round selection (49th overall) of the San Jose Earthquakes in this year's MLS SuperDraft, recently finished a stellar collegiate career at Davidson (NC) College. With the Wildcats, Ozimek, 21, was named to the All-South Region's third team. He was named All-South for the second season becoming just the third Davidson player ever to capture that distinction twice.
This past season, Ozimek was second on the team in points with 18. His eight assists tied for the team lead in 2001 while his five goals put him second on the team in that category. Although he played just two seasons at Davidson, he ranks in the top 10 in career assists and was also named all-conference in both seasons.
"I am extremely excited to join the Portland Timbers and help them to an A-League championship," said Ozimek. "The Timbers are a first-class organization, and I look forward to playing for coach Bobby Howe."
Howe first took notice of Ozimek's skills at this year's Umbro Select College Showcase in Florida.
"I was very impressed with his midfield play," said Howe. "He has good awareness and passing ability. He plays the game with simple efficiency and is always involved in the action."
TIMBERS NOTES: Several members of the Timbers teamed with a group of Seattle Sounders to participate in a special scrimmage with the U.S. National Team last Wednesday at the University of Washington ... the scrimmage, which resulted in a 1-0 win for the National Team, was held as a prelude to the United States' World Cup warm-up against Honduras held Saturday, March 2 at Safeco Field ... Howe co-coached the team and said "it was a privilege to play against the National Team" and that his players "rose to the challenge and thoroughly enjoyed the match" ... Timbers players participating in the scrimmage were: Matt Napoleon, Gavin Wilkinson, Scott Benedetti, Brian Winters, Vadim Tolstolutsky; and newcomers Ben Somoza and Jake Sagare - both drafted recently out of the University of Washington ... with the season just over two months away, the Timbers have released Jeff Clarke and Greg Howes ... Clarke tallied seven points on three goals and an assist over 21 matches played with Portland last season while Howes had 20 points on seven goals and six assists in 21 matches.