Timbers beat Norwich City 1-0 in exhibition match
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)
Jose Valencia scored in the 53rd minute, and goalkeepers Milos Kocic and Jake Gleeson combined for the shutout Wednesday night to earn the Portland Timbers a 1-0 victory in an exhibition match with English side Norwich City.
Valencia found himself unguarded on the left side and collected a pass from Kalif Alhassan, then slid his shot past Canaries goalkeeper Carlo Nash to tally the game's only goal.
The first half started out scrappy, with more fouls than goal-scoring opportunities, but the teams eventually settled down, combining for 12 shots and each hitting the goalpost once. Portland's Kalif Alhassan scuffed a shot onto the Norwich post, while the Canaries' Nathan Redmond forced Kocic to make a full-stretch save, tipping the shot onto the crossbar.
Valencia nearly scored earlier in the second half, when his 25-yard shot smashed off the Norwich goalpost. Norwich had a couple of opportunities to tie the score. The first came in the 72nd minute, when second-half substitute Jacob Butterfield's shot was knocked wide by Gleeson, who entered the game at halftime. Then Redmond forced a diving save from Gleeson in the 85th minute.
It was Portland's first victory over English opposition since joining MLS in 2011. The Timbers lost to West Bromwich Albion in 2011 and tied Aston Villa in 2012 before losing a penalty shootout.
''They are in preseason, so we have to keep that perspective,'' Portland coach Caleb Porter said. ''But I think it says a lot about our club that we were able to get a result.''
Portland will return to MLS action on Saturday with a trip to face Western Conference rivals San Jose.
Norwich is preparing for its third consecutive season in the Barclays Premier League after spending the previous six seasons in lower divisions. The Canaries finished 12th and 11th, respectively, in their first two seasons back in the 20-team English top flight.
This was Norwich's third preseason match in North America, having previously defeated Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa, then losing to the San Jose Earthquakes. The team now goes back to England ahead of its Barclays Premier League opener against Everton on Aug. 17.
''I think a little bit of tiredness crept in and sometimes a little bit of concentration goes when that happens,'' Nash said. ''They're doing well in the league, they look quick and sharp, and that's where we're trying to be.''