Matchday Preview: Portland Timbers vs. Norwich City FC at JELD-WEN Field - July 24, 2013

Timbers host EPL side Norwich City FC at 8pm PT at JELD-WEN Field

Matchday preview, Timbers vs. Norwich, 7.24.13

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

PORTLAND TIMBERS vs NORWICH CITY FC
JELD-WEN FIELD, Portland, Or.
July 24, 2013 (Friendly)
8:00 p.m. PT (750 AM The Game, 940 AM La Pantera)
Forecast: 85 degrees, partly cloudy
TICKETS: Timbers vs. Norwich City FC

Webstream: www.portlandtimbers.com

The Timbers enter Wednesday’s international exhibition against Norwich City at JELD-WEN Field on the heels of a scoreless draw at Philadelphia on July 20. Portland faces Norwich City in a midweek contest prior to traveling to San Jose for a regular-season match against the Earthquakes on July 27 at Buck Shaw Stadium. Wednesday’s match marks the second team from the English Premier League to play at JELD-WEN Field in consecutive seasons after Aston Villa defeated the Timbers 5-4 on penalty kicks on July 24, 2012.

Norwich City, who are just beginning their preseason schedule ahead of the 2013-14 Premier League season, come to the Rose City off a 1-0 loss against the San Jose Earthquakes on July 20. The Canaries defeated Mexican second-divison club Dorados de Sinaloa on July 18, kicking off their preseason slate. Manager Chris Hughton’s side finished the 2012-13 Premier League season in 11th place overall (out of 20 teams).

About Norwich City FC
More than a century old, Norwich City was originally formed in 1902 and has played a total of 21 seasons in England’s top flight since 1972. The club was a founding member of the Premier League, and finished third in the league’s inaugural season in 1992-93. Norwich City is a two-time winner of the League Cup (1962, 1985) and competed in the 1993-94 UEFA Cup. Norwich City has competed in each of the last two Premier League seasons, earning promotion after a second-place finish in the 2010-11 League Championship campaign.

Nicknamed “the Canaries,” Norwich City completed the club’s 100th competitive season in 2012-13. Roughly two hours northeast of London, Norwich City FC plays their home matches at Carrow Road. The team’s grounds, built in 1935, have been renovated numerous times - most recently in 2010.

Norwich City 2012-13 in Review
In their second season since being promoted to the Premier League in 2010-11, manager Chris Hughton’s side finished firmly in the middle of the standings with a 10-14-14 (44pts) overall record during the 2012-13 campaign. Hovering near the relegation zone (bottom three teams) for the first seven weeks of the season, Norwich City put together a 10-game unbeaten streak from Oct. 20-Dec. 15, 2012, rocketing up to a season-high position of seventh place in the table. The Canaries followed the unbeaten streak with a stretch of one win over their next 16 matches, falling back down to 14th place. Three wins in its final five games helped solidify the club’s spot in the Premier League for the 2013-14 season that begins on Aug. 17. Forward Grant Holt led the club with eight goals in the Premier League, but has since transferred to Wigan Athletic for the upcoming season. Winger Robert Snodgrass, a Scotland international, was second on the club with six goals and attacking midfielder Anthony Pilkington placed third with five goals. Central midfielder Bradley Johnson led the team with 37 starts. In cup competitions, Norwich City reached the quarterfinals of the League Cup before bowing out to Aston Villa. In the FA Cup, the Canaries were defeated in the fourth round by English fifth-division side Luton Town.

Scouting the Canaries
Norwich City enters Wednesday’s match with two previous preseason results 
in hand - a 3-0 win over Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa on July 18 and a 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on July 20. Norwich City scored three goals within six minutes of the second half to beat second-division Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa 3-0 at Raley Field in Sacramento. Forward Luciano Becchio opened the scoring for the Canaries, netting the first goal in the 65th minute. Midfielder Anthony Pilkington then followed with a second goal three minutes later, while midfielder Josh Murphy, a Norwich City U-21 product, capped the scoring with a final goal in the 70th minute. On Saturday, San Jose midfielder Cordell Cato scored in the seventh minute in a 1-0 win over Norwich City at Buck Shaw Stadium. The goal came as both sides limited each other’s chances in the game, as the teams combined for just five shots on goal. The Earthquakes held the overall advantage in shots, however, outshooting the Canaries 10-4. After playing the Timbers, Norwich faces Brighton & Hove Albion (England), Braga (Portugal), Real Sociedad (Spain) and Panathinaikos (Greece) rounding out their preseason slate.

READ: Check out Norwich City FC's travel roster for preseason USA Tour

Canaries Connections
Timbers forward Frederic Piquionne and Norwich City defender Martin Olsson have squared off against each other in the past. On April 3, 2010, Piquionne entered an English Premier League match for Portsmouth against Blackburn Rovers in the 72nd minute. There, he shared the field with Olsson, who started and played 90 minutes for Blackburn.

From 2005-2008, goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts played three seasons with Bradford City in England. Ricketts crossed paths with several current Norwich City players including goalkeeper John Ruddy, midfielder Anthony Pilkington (both Stockport County), defender Ryan Bennett (Grimsby Town), defender Russell Martin (Wycombe Wanderers) and midfielder Elliott Bennett (Bury/Crewe Alexandra).

An England youth international, midfielder David Fox signed with Manchester United as a 17-year-old academy product in 2000, and was with the club until 2006 where he crossed over with Timbers defender Mikael Silvestre. Fox, however, did not appear in a first team game for the Red Devils during his time with the club.

Timbers assistant coach Sean McAuley served as caretaker manager for seven games with Sheffield Wednesday during his time as the club’s academy coach. On Dec. 26, 2009, McAuley served as manager for Sheffield Wednesday in a match against first-place Newcastle United in a regular-season match in England’s League Championsip. Newcastle United’s manager was Chris Hughton, the current manager of Norwich City. After going down 2-1 in the first half, McAuley’s Sheffield Wednesday side battled back for a 2-2 draw

Offseason Transactions
Ahead of the 2013-14 Premier League season, Norwich City has made several notable transactions to prepare for the next campaign. After selling Grant Holt, the club’s leading scorer from last season, to Wigan Athletic, the Canaries acquired 24-year-old Dutch striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Portuguese side Sporting Portugal for a club-record $13 million deal. Van Wolfswinkel tallied 14 goals in 30 league games for Sporting last season. Norwich City also acquired Swedish international left back Martin Olsson from Blackburn Rovers, 23-year- old Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer from FC Twente of the Netherlands, 19-year-old England youth international winger Nathan Redmond and left back Javier Garrido, who was on loan with the club last season.

Seeing Out the Half, and Game
The Timbers are the only MLS club that have not conceded a goal in the 15-minute interval leading into halftime. Closing out matches this season, Portland is tied for second in the league for the fewest number of goals conceded in the final 15 minutes of matches. Portland, along with Houston and Sporting Kansas City, has allowed three goals in the final 15-minute interval of games this season. Only Seattle Sounders FC have conceded fewer goals (2) at the end of games. Overall, the Timbers have conceded the fewest goals in MLS this season (18), along with the New England Revolution, who have also conceded 18 goals in 20 games.

Assists in Bunches
Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri is three assists shy of the league lead, but the Argentine playmaker leads the league in multi-assist games (3). Valeri is the only player in MLS this season to record two assists in three different games – achieving the feat on July 13 against the LA Galaxy, May 12 versus Chivas USA and April 27 at Sporting KC – all three victories.

Second-Half Threat
Portland has scored 21 goals in the second half of games this season, including a league-best nine goals during the first 15 minutes following the halftime break. Portland’s 21 second-half goals is one shy of the league lead. On the defensive side, the Timbers have conceded seven goals in the final 45 minutes this season, which ranks first in MLS as the league’s best second-half defense.

Record-Tying Ricketts
With a shutout against the Philadelphia Union on July 20, goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts tied Portland’s single-season shutouts record with his ninth clean sheet of the season. Ricketts is now just one shutout shy of tying the club’s MLS all-time high of 12 shutouts (set by Troy Perkins from 2011-12). The Jamaican international goalkeeper has played in just 28 games since joining the Timbers in August 2012, recording 11 shutouts during that time - a pace of nearly .40 shutouts per 90 minutes. Ricketts currently leads MLS in shutouts (9) and ranks second in saves percentage (77.2).

On a Roll at JELD-WEN Field
The Timbers recorded an MLS-club record streak of six straight shutouts at JELD-WEN Field from April 6-June 23. Portland’s home shutout streak came
to an end against the LA Galaxy on July 13, setting the MLS club-home record
of 587 minutes without conceding a goal at JELD-WEN Field, spanning eight league games from March 9-July 13. Portland is unbeaten in its last seven matches (6-0-1) at JELD-WEN Field, including four straight wins. The team’s current four-game, home-winning streak is one shy of tying the MLS club-record of five consecutive home wins set during the 2011 season.

Timbers Earn Road Draw at Union
The Portland Timbers recorded their ninth shutout of the season, earning a point on the road in a scoreless draw against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on July 20. Portland’s defense held one of MLS’ top goal-scoring clubs in the Union to just four shots on goal, recording its third shutout on the road overall and third in its last five away matches. Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts recorded four saves, including three in the second half, to pick up his ninth clean sheet of the campaign, tied for the most in MLS this season. With the draw, Timbers remain in second place in the Western Conference and have earned results in 10 of their 11 road matches on the campaign.

Iron Men
Timbers midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe has started a Timbers MLS-club record among field players with 34 straight starts for the team dating back to the 2012 MLS season. In fact, Nagbe has played in 53 of the team’s 54 regular- season games since the start of the 2012 season. Defender Jack Jewsbury has appeared in 49 of the team’s last 54 games and midfielder Diego Chara has seen time in 48 (all starts).

Remarkable Ricketts
Earlier this season, Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts set a new Timbers MLS record with four straight shutouts (May 18-25; June 15-23). Furthermore, the Jamaican international has logged the third and fourth longest streaks without conceding a goal this season (401 minutes from May 18-July 7; 396 minutes from March 30-April 21). Ricketts missed the Timbers’ June 8 match at Chicago while on international duty. The goalkeeper has earned MLS Save of the Week honors six times while also recording nine shutouts.

A Resilient Bunch
The Timbers are the only team in MLS to earn a record of .500 or better when allowing the first goal. Portland is 2-2-4 when conceding the opening goal
this year, including a comeback 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy on July 13. The Timbers also notched a 3-2 comeback win over Sporting Kansas City on the road at Sporting Park on April 27. The Timbers have also earned comeback draws against New York (March 3), Seattle (March 16), Colorado (March 30) and Vancouver (May 18).