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Originally published May 3, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 3, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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MLS expansion targets Portland or Seattle

The owner of a potential Major League Soccer franchise in the Pacific Northwest is a California real-estate developer with ties to former...

The owner of a potential Major League Soccer franchise in the Pacific Northwest is a California real-estate developer with ties to former Portland Trail Blazers owner Larry Weinberg.

Michael Keston said this week he retains the exclusive rights to discuss with MLS the possibility of bringing an expansion team to either Portland or Seattle.

MLS commissioner Don Garber has touted both areas as viable candidates for one of three expansion clubs the league wants to add by 2010. Other locales the 13-team league is considering include Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area, Cleveland, Miami, Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Keston, 67, said he has not ruled out Seattle but that he and son James came away impressed from a two-day tour of Portland and PGE Park two weeks ago.

"We very much would like to be in Portland," he said. "We think the people and atmosphere are great and it's a place we could very happily be."

Seattle Sounders managing partner Adrian Hanauer, who once considered being a primary investor in an MLS franchise in Seattle, has discussed expansion with Keston.

"I met with them about seven or eight months ago," Hanauer said. "We've had several conversations and I wanted to provide as much help as I could."

Hanauer hasn't ruled out being part of an MLS ownership group in Seattle.

"They know I'm open to any discussions," he said.

PGE Park is the preferred venue for an MLS expansion franchise in Portland, but Keston said he would consider building a 25,000-seat stadium outside the city. He estimated the cost at $120 million.

Ultimately, Keston said, choosing between Portland and Seattle will come down to which stadium has the best lease to offer.

Keston described 67,000-seat Qwest Field, home of the Seahawks, as the perfect venue for an MLS expansion team.

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Suzanne Lavender, a spokeswoman for the company that operates Qwest Field, said officials last spoke with Keston a number of weeks ago but that "right now, there aren't any specific discussions going on."

Keston said he hopes to make a decision within a month, then seek the blessing of MLS brass.

The MLS coming to Seattle likely would mean the end of the Sounders, who play in the lower-tier United Soccer Leagues First Division.

"I certainly think it would be difficult for us to compete with MLS," Hanauer said.

Keston has amassed his fortune — enough to afford the $30 million MLS requires for an expansion entry fee — by building and investing in California residential and commercial real estate as the owner and chief executive of Larwin Company. The privately held business was founded by Weinberg, the original owner of the Trail Blazers.

AC Milan beats

Manchester United

MILAN, Italy — AC Milan reached the Champions League final by beating Manchester United 3-0 Wednesday in the second leg and advancing 5-3 on total goals.

Milan got goals from Kaka, Clarence Seedorf and substitute Alberto Gilardino to advance to the May 23 title game against Liverpool in Athens, Greece.

Liverpool, a five-time European champion, defeated Chelsea 4-1 on penalty kicks Tuesday in the other semifinal.

Milan has won the European Cup six times and will be playing in the final for the third time in the past five years. The title game will be a rematch of the 2005 final when Liverpool overturned a 3-0 halftime deficit and won the title 3-2 on penalty kicks.

Seattle Times freelancer Matt Massey contributed to this report.

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