Portland kicks off title defense with a bang

The Portland Timbers and owner Merritt Paulson seem to know when they’ve got a good thing going.


Gavin Wilkinson, Paulson’s right-hand man and general manager of the organization, has been re-signed to a long-term contract, the club announced on Friday. He has also been given a new title: President of Soccer.


"Gavin has been doing first-rate work for this club for a long time – from scouting talent to cap management gymnastics to setting up our youth development infrastructure – and we have benefited immeasurably from his services," Paulson said in a statement. "His new title better reflects the size and scope of his oversight with the Timbers and Thorns, and his new contract has been well-earned and is mutually advantageous."


He is not the only top talent the Timbers have been eager to lock down after winning the MLS Cup in December. Head coach Caleb Porter was inked to a long-term contract extension in January.

Portland Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson given long-term contract, new title -

Wilkinson has served as the team’s general manager since 2007 and since then his duties have expanded with the club to oversee not just the Timbers, but the Thorns in the NWSL, T2 in USL, the Timbers Under-23s and the Timbers Academy.


Wilkinson, 42, first joined the Timbers in 2001 and served in a number of roles before moving up the ranks, including as a player and coach. The New Zealand international played for the club back when it competed in the A-League and then coached in USL for three years.


"I am excited and honored by this opportunity to continue what we have all started," Wilkinson said. "My family and I have been privileged to call Portland and this club home for the last 16 years, and I very much appreciate the confidence Timbers owner Merritt Paulson has shown in what we’ve all built, as well as the direction of the club."