Portland coach promises Norwich City an experience to remember
Portland Timbers’ head coach Caleb Porter is promising Norwich City will experience one of America’s footballing hotbeds in their final West Coast tour match in the early hours of Thursday morning (4am BST).
Chris Hughton’s squad can expect their toughest test yet with the Timbers second in the Western Conference of the MLS and well-placed to launch a concerted title challenge.
Porter admits this weekend’s next league game against San Jose – who beat City 1-0 at the weekend – ranks higher on his list of priorities but the hosts plan to put on a special occasion.
“We’re happy Norwich is here of course. They are a Premier League team, they have a great coach and good players. I expect they will be up for it but they are in pre-season and we understand that,” he said.
“But I’m sure they are approaching the game no differently to us in terms of the result. They will be looking to develop their group.
“Hopefully it’s an entertaining game. It will be a sold out crowd. We have 15,000 season ticket holders and 8,000 on a waiting list so this is a big soccer town. The fans are so passionate and they have grown with the club over the years.
“I know this one is part of our season ticket package so it should be a lot of fun. Norwich will see it is a great environment and hopefully it is a good football game.”
Porter plans to give some of his fringe men valuable experience against the Premier League outfit. “We’re going to focus on ourselves. Norwich will do the same,” he said. “I understand we are in the middle of our season and they are just in their pre-season so we both want different things out of the game.
“It gives us a chance to work on some things, to give guys who haven’t had minutes an opportunity to play in front of a big crowd. We are certainly not going out to lose but the priority is not the result but to plug certain guys in spots for the league game on Saturday, to get certain groupings together and really fine tune our preparations.”
Timbers trail Real Salt Lake by three points in the MLS Western Conference with a game in hand and Porter believes there is no reason his club can’t go all the way in one of the closest championships for seasons.
“I’m not sure about past years but I can’t remember a tighter race for the title,” he said. “Before the last game there was six teams in our conference with over 30 points. We have pinned the table up in the locker room and the guys talk about it every single day. I’ve adjusted our target now. It’s less about who we play as picking up points.
“Historically speaking if you get above 52 points you are making the play-offs so in the next 14 games we can’t drive ourselves crazy about what the other teams are doing. We need to take control of our business and the key is picking up those points.
“We need another 18 to hit that target and that should put us in good shape. If its wins or draws or the odd loss I don’t mind. There are a lot of different ways to skin a cat. What I like about us and our group is we have not lost too many games so far.”