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West Brom to West Coast: Can Liam Ridgewell save Portland’s back line?

Jul 12, 2014, 2:55 PM EST

Norwich City v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

Make no mistake about it, Liam Ridgewell plans to stabilize a leaky Portland Timbers defense and shut the door on Major League Soccer offenses.

The 29-year-old Premier League veteran signed a Designated Player contract with Portland a couple weeks back and spent his first training session with the team on Friday. He likely won’t play against Seattle on Sunday.

West Brom’s defense wasn’t exactly a fortress last season, as the Baggies allowed 59 goals and finished just three points ahead of the drop. Their goals allowed mark tied with Newcastle for sixth-worst in the PL.

And the club’s surprising eighth-place finish in 2012/13 still included 57 goals allowed. Despite playing 2800 minutes, Ridgewell’s advanced stats Squawka score was the lowest on the team.

But he was a mainstay on a Premier League backline, so perhaps he’ll come in and solidify things for head coach Caleb Porter:

“Hopefully I can bring a bit of experience and hopefully I can help that backline,” Ridgewell told the media. “I’m not coming in here to take people’s position and things like that. I’m coming in to help people and slot myself in and make sure we keep a clean sheet in a lot of the games and make sure we win some games.”

Ridgewell says taking in a home match helped tip the scales in Portland’s favor, as its rumored there were plenty of teams looking for his services. The Timbers have scored 30 goals, tied for second in the league, but their 30 allowed is also tied for second in MLS. It’s worth noting they have played more matches than all but four other teams, but that also makes their standing as four points back of a playoff spot more desperate.

What do you think: Will Ridgewell be a marked improvement over Norberto Paparatto, Futty )(traded), Rauwshan McKenzie and Danny O’Rourke?

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